Budweiser brewer moves to fend off takeover

Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch is planning a defence as speculation grows over a takeover approach from rival and Stella Artois firm InBev, according to reports today.

US group Anheuser-Busch is said to be considering snapping up the 50% stake in Mexican Brewer Grupo Modelo, which makes Corona, that it does not already own in the hope that it will make the whole group too expensive for InBev to buy.

Belgium-based InBev is understood to be meeting this week to decide whether or not to press ahead with a possible £23.2bn (€29.1bn) takeover of the Budweiser group.

Market talk emerged last week suggesting that the group was eyeing its US rival.

The brewing industry has been consolidating at a fast pace to help achieve greater economies of scale as demand wanes in mature markets and as costs soar.

Foster’s, John Smith’s and Kronenbourg 1664 brewer Scottish & Newcastle was bought by Heineken and Carlsberg in a £7.8bn (€9.8bn) takeover deal which completed last month.

InBev owns beer brands in 20 markets worldwide, including Brahma, Hoegaarden, Leffe and Staropramen.

Anheuser has more than 100 brands and 12 US breweries. Its international arm operates 15 breweries – 14 in China and one in the UK, at Mortlake.

InBev is also believed to be considering joining forces with SABMiller should the mooted Anheuser approach fall through.

Reports suggest that InBev and SABMiller have already held informal talks about a merger of certain parts of the business.

Neither InBev nor Anheuser were immediately available for comment.

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