Belgian beer-maker AB InBev plans to buy its rival SABMiller for $100 billion. But to close the giant deal, they will sell the Eastern-European part of SABMiller's business that already attracted too many buyers.
As part of the merge between the two largest beer producers in the worlds, such iconic beer brands as Corona and Pilsner will come together in one of the biggest-ever corporate alliances. However, the "mega-merger" faced serious regulatory pressures that pushed the companies to put a part of SABMiller (Bolsa de Madrid: Banco de Sabadell [SAB]) for sale. Already in the beginning of October, SABMiller's European business operating in Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia will take the first bids.
Ever since the sale was announced, the number of interested customers has been consistently growing. So far, the list includes Chinese beer-manufacturer China Resources Beer Holdings Co. (HK: 291), Japanese beer-maker Asahi Group Holdings Ltd (2502:JP), Czech R2G, Swiss investment company Jacobs Holdings and, most recently, a Polish billionaire Sebastian Kulczyk. In order to win the race, they need to place a bid of about $5-7 billion.
Kulczyk already holds a 1.5% stake in SABMiller and plans to team up with several private equity funds to place a large bid for the company's European assets. The Polish press reported that there are several funds that are already interested in partnering with Kulczyk for a stake in SABMiller's Eastern-European business. However, he needs to fight with very aggressive competition.
The Chinese CR Beer is the biggest player so far. CR Beer, the largest brewer in China, has been partnering with SABMiller since 1994 to promote the brand on the Chinese market. This can explain the company's ambition to acquire the European part of SABMiller's business, what will not be that easy to do considering the number of ambitious buyers. Bloomberg adds that this could be CR Beer's long-awaited chance to enter new markets outside of China.
As the bidding is still almost one month away, who knows what other interested customers will join the race.