ABIBSABM: The Beer Monstrosity That Wasn’t

By Mike Pomranz |
FWX ANHEUSER BUSCH TRYING TO BUY SAB MILLER_0

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For nearly a month now, the big will-they-or-won’t-they story hasn’t been centered around some CBS rom-com—definitely in part because no one watches network television rom-coms anymore, but also because an even bigger courtship has been underway: Anheuser-Busch InBev’s attempts to shack up with SABMiller.

Not only would a merger create a beer behemoth selling $69 billion per year of brews and controlling about 30 percent of worldwide sales, but it could also represent a bizarre end to the decades’ old battle between Bud Light and Miller Lite by putting the two brands under the same ownership—like if the Yankees and the Red Sox decided to share their payrolls.

However, the clock is ticking: Under British takeover law, companies can only negotiate a deal like this for a set window of time and that time ends this coming Wednesday. The proposed merger falls under British law because SABMiller is a London-based company despite the fact that the company’s name is created out of an amalgam of South African Breweries and the all-American brand Miller—which hopefully gives you a sense of just how complicated and confusing the world of beer mergers has become.

In an article this morning, though, The New York Post predicted that, at this point, a merger is “unlikely.” The paper suggests that SABMiller feels as if it may have been targeted opportunistically, and the stock numbers seem to back that up. AB Inbev decided to put in their bid after spending much of the year watching SABMiller’s stock tank. Because of the timing, many SABMiller shareholders believe the bid “very substantially” undervalues the company—and if they hold out until company earnings rebound, they can demand a better price.

The good news: According to the Post, even if things fail this time, those delightful British takeover regulators will allow AB InBev another shot in six months—just in time to give beer voyeurs another juicy story line before the start of summer.

Related: There's a Very Good Reason Craft Beer is More Expensive 
Beer Camp: A Brewfest of Epic Proportions 
Is Beer the New Gatorade?

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