By Jennifer Yousfi
Shares of the largest U.S. brewer, Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. (BUD), maker of such iconic brands as Budweiser and Bud Light, shot up more than 7% on Friday on news that the Belgium-based InBev NV was considering a $46 billion takeover bid.
European beermaker InBev is the world's largest brewer. Its stable of beers includes such well-known names as Stella Artois, Beck's and Brahma.
"The two companies would represent an excellent geographic fit," Wim Hoste, an analyst at KBC Securities, part of KBC Groep NV in Brussels, said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg News. "The black hole for InBev is the [United States]. Buying Anheuser-Busch would fill up the last major hole in their geographic portfolio."
Should the two brewers merge, the resultant entity would be a globally focused player that sends out 350 million hectoliters of beer annually and generates approximately $20 billion in annual revenue, MarketWatch reported.
Analysts are already expecting opposition from Anheuser's fiercely independent President and Chief Executive Officer August Busch IV. But if Busch refuses to commence friendly talks, InBev would then be prepared to go straight to key shareholders with its $65 per share bid, The Financial Times' Alphaville blog reported, citing unnamed sources.
Management opposition isn't the only problem that could derail this merger, Craig Hutson, an analyst at GimmeCredit.com, said in a MarketWatch report.
"The cultures are vastly different," Hutson said. "Anheuser-Busch was founded by a family that has deep beer roots and a focus on building brands and treating its employees well. Inbev is a global amalgamation of acquisitions that is intently focused on reducing costs while incentivizing employees to drive higher profits."
Hutson wrote that, while a deal would be "a good geographic and product fit, we believe there are too many impediments."
Shares of Anheuser-Busch gained $4.03 each, or 7.66%, to close at $56.61 on Friday. The stock has traded between $45.55 and $58.00 in the past 52 weeks.
The proposed merger is the latest in a string of consolidations in the largely mature global beverage industry. In January, Carlsberg A/S and Heineken N.V. (HINKY) agreed to buy Scottish & Newcastle PLC for $15.4 billion. Late last year, British-owned SAB Miller PLC (OTC: SBMRY) and Canada's Molson Coors Brewing Co. (TAP), agreed to merge their U.S. brewing operations.
If Anheuser-Busch is acquired by InBev, it will leave The Boston Beer Co. Inc. (SAM), maker of the popular Samuel Adams beer brand, as one of the last large domestic brewers that still has American ownership.
News and Related Story Links:
- Bloomberg News:
Anheuser-Busch Surges on Report InBev May Make Bid
Anheuser-Busch rises on new report of takeover bid
- Money Morning:
Third Time is the Charm for Carlsberg and Heineken
- Money Morning:
Carlsberg and Heineken Close in on Scottish & Newcastle