Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, intends to sell the Eastern European brewing assets of SABMiller to secure regulatory approval for its $100 billion (€88.2bn) takeover of its rival.
AB InBev has already lined up Japan’s Asahi to buy SABMiller’s Grolsch, Peroni and Meantime brands for €2.55bn and said yesterday it has put up for sale SABMiller’s activities in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
It has notified the Commission, which is set to deliver its verdict by May 24.
A number of analysts expressed surprise at the news.
“It seems slightly strange. There is no antitrust overlap that I can see. AB InBev has no presence to speak of in these countries,” said Andrew Holland, beverage analyst at Societe Generale.
“Perhaps the EU is looking at the pan-European market share,” he said.
If the Commission chose to open an in-depth investigation into the SABMiller takeover, it would not receive clearance for up to 90 working days, a delay AB InBev may be keen to avoid.
Initial valuations for SAB’s eastern European breweries varied widely, from $4bn to $7bn. Heineken, Carlsberg and Molson Coors could face antitrust problems of their own if they wanted to buy unless the assets were sold separately.
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