By Andy Young
Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings is considering the acquisition of SABMiller brands Peroni and Grolsch according to the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbu newspaper.
Last month AB InBev confirmed that it would be off-loading the two brands should its takeover of SABMiller go ahead. Last week TheShout reported that Carlsberg's chairman Flemming Besenbacher ruled out bidding for the brands and Asahi is now widely tipped to be the first company to make an offer. The brands would reportedly cost in the region of $4.8 billion.
The Yomiuri Shimbu report also claimed that private equity firms KKR and Cinven, as well as Spanish beermarker Mahou-San Miguel could be interested in bidding for the brands, while TheShout understands that European giant Heineken and US beer maker Molson Coors are also interested in buying the increasingly popular brands.
John Colley of Warwick Business School, a professor of practice in the Strategy and International Business Group, and a mergers and acquisitions researcher said the sale was needed to make sure the AB InBev takeover gets past regulatory authorities.
"Following the acquisition of SAB Miller by AB InBev for $106 billion we are starting to see the regulatory fall out as disposals become necessary to appease the competition authorities," professor Colley said.
"Becoming the world's biggest brewer with 30 per cent of the global market still requires regulatory approval. Worldwide rights to Miller were sold to MillerCoors for $12 billion and now more of the family silver in Grolsch and Peroni appears to be going to Asahi for US$3.4 billion. This is all value lost from the deal as these prices pro rata are well below the 40 per cent pre-bid premium paid for SAB Miller.
"The Snow brand in China may well be the next under the hammer. While a necessity for AB InBev, this looks a good deal for Asahi.
"Asahi is the biggest Japanese brewer with 38% 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 a wider distribution. Good news for the beer drinker as it may well lead to more choice and more competition."
TheShout contacted Asahi Premium Beverages, who declined to comment on the speculation.