By Andy Young

AB InBev has agreed to the sale of the Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands as part of its proposed takeover of SABMiller.

Asahi made the €2.55 billion ($4bn) binding offer in February and AB InBev has agreed to the sale as it looks to gain regulatory approval for the takeover.

In a statement, Asahi said: "This transaction will be completed concurrently with and subject to the completing of AB InBev's acquisition of SABMiller."

John Colley, a Professor of Practice at Warwick Business School who has extensively researched mega mergers, said: "This deal suggests the merger with SABMiller is close to closing and that they believe they will soon get the necessary regulatory approvals particularly in US, Europe and China. The real prize is stronger positions in Africa and Latin America which are the future growth markets for beer. Elsewhere demand is largely flat.

"The deal has come at a high cost with substantial forced disposals in addition to the $106 billion needed to convince SABMiller's shareholders. Assets sold to allay competition fears include worldwide rights to the Miller brands which went to MolsonCoors, Snow brand to China Resources Enterprise, and now Peroni and Grolsch to Asahi of Japan.

"The speed at which the deal has been done demonstrates the determination of AB InBev to complete on the SABMiller deal. This will give them almost 30 per cent of the global beer market. It does mean that the merger will make AB InBev by far the world's biggest brewer with Carlsberg and Heineken a long way back. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how this level of concentration will be in the beer drinkers’ best interests.

"However the overall price of the deal and the extent of necessary disposals suggests that AB InBev's shareholders may not benefit either.

"Asahi is the biggest Japanese brewer with 38 per cent of the market but little outside Japan. Clearly this signals global ambitions for Asahi as it will give them a strong position in many developed markets.

"Access to distribution through these two premium brands and relatively local brewing will mean that Asahi's own range of Super Dry ales can be introduced to wide distribution.  This is at least good news for the beer drinker as it may well lead to more choice and more competition."

As well as the assets sold AB InBev has also agreed to set up a $89m fund to protect South African farmers as it looks to gain regulatory approval from that country's government.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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