Despite growing speculation yesterday that the impending takeover of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch InBev wasn’t going to happen before tomorrow’s regulatory deadline, this morning, the two beer behemoths announced they had reached a “possible deal,” with AB InBev buying out SAB for $104 billion. To actually complete the merger, the deal will have to pass intense scrutiny from regulators, which makes sense: According to CNN Money, the merger would be the “biggest beer deal ever and among the top five acquisitions of all time.”
Though AB InBev employs 155,000 people globally, and SABMiller has a workforce of an additional 70,000, for the vast majority of us, the question becomes: How will this affect our beer drinking? The answer, for American beer lovers at least, is probably not much. As the BBC points out, it appears AB InBev’s interest in SAB is based on their African roots. “AB InBev's brands are largely concentrated in the Americas and Europe; SABMiller has about 40 brands in Africa,” BBC writes. “What makes these brands so tasty is the growing African middle class, an army of consumers that all the major brewing companies have been eyeing up in recent years.”
In America, the biggest issue appears to be keeping the beer market competitive. According to The Wall Street Journal, in the U.S., “Belgium-based AB InBev already has a roughly 45% market share and London-based SABMiller controls a further 25% through its MillerCoors LLC joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing Co.” The fear is that such strong control over the market could result in higher beer prices. For a merger to go through, a newly formed AB InBev-SABMiller would probably have to sell off some of their existing brands—similar to how AB InBev sold off the American rights to beers like Corona when they bought out Grupo Modelo.
But imagine if this to-be-formed brewing giant was able to hold onto all their current brands. Since SABMiller and Molson Coors also collectively own MillerCoors, it would mean that Budweiser, Miller and Coors would all be tied to the same parent company. Hey, if the European Union can form after two World Wars, maybe these guys really can work things out.