SABMiller, which had modest beginnings as South Africa’s monopoly producer of the gold and fizzy, might well end its career as part of the world’s biggest beer business. In the lumbering dance of the giants that is the story so far, Anheuser Busch InBev has now formally told SABMiller that it will soon be tabling a proposal regarding a merger, although the specific terms have not as yet been revealed. For its part, SABMiller has coyly stated that it will “review and respond as appropriate to any proposal which might be made.” In the meantime, doubts have been raised about the future of a significant asset: CE Snow Breweries, brewer of the world’s biggest beer by volume, which SABMiller co-owns with China Resources Enterprises (CRE). The change of ownership implied by an AB deal would probably give CRE the right to purchase SAB’s stake, or failing that, the Chinese competition authorities might step in, wielding a hammer or indeed a sickle, to take Snow out of the equation.
Comment: The markets are still pretty excited by the news though, with SAB’s share jumping a fifth straight away.