Beer brewing behemoth, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV BUD , alias AB InBev, moves another step closer to fulfilling its requirements for the mega-merger with SABMiller Limited (earlier known as SABMiller Plc). The company closed the previously agreed sale of some of SABMiller's eastern European businesses to Japan's Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. for €7.3 billion (or US$7.8 billion).
Under the agreement signed on Dec 13, 2016, the company disposed SABMiller's businesses in five countries namely, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania (termed as CEE Business). These included leading beer brands like Pilsner Urquell, Kozel and Tyskie. Further, the divestiture is in sync with AB InBev's pact with the European Commission in May 2016.
While the disposal of these assets only fulfills AB InBev's antitrust commitments, the purchase has significant importance for Asahi as it presents a lucrative opportunity to diversify outside its home market, where the brewers' are plagued by an aging and shrinking population.
Additionally, this acquisition complements Asahi's previous buy of the Western European brewing assets from AB InBev for €2.55 billion, including SABMiller's premium beer brands Peroni and Grolsch, and British craft brewer Meantime. Together, the assets acquired from AB InBev provide Asahi the platform to expand in Europe and establish itself as a global player. Further, the recent acquisition will bring the company to the third spot among the Asian brewers.
Coming back to AB InBev, the company signed many other similar deals in various countries to win regulatory nod for the SABMiller buyout. The most prominent one in the lot is definitely the sale of SABMiller's 58% stake in the MillerCoors LLC joint venture (JV) to Denver-based Molson Coors Brewing Company TAP
for $12 billion. This makes Molson Coors, which previously held a 42% stake in MillerCoors, the 100% stakeholder in the JV. Molson Coors now has full rights to all the brands in the MillerCoors portfolio for the U.S. market, including Redd's and import brands such as Peroni and Pilsner Urquell.
Moreover, the company has agreed to sell SABMiller's 26.4% stake in Distell Group Limited, a South African distiller of wine, spirits, and ciders to Africa's largest pension administrator, the Public Investment Corporation (SOC) Limited. Further, the company agreed to divest 54.5% stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa ("CCBA") to the soft-drinks giant The Coca-Cola Company KO
for $3.15 billion.
Despite these divestitures, we note that the combined mega-brewing company still holds the top spot in the beer industry, controlling about one-thirds of the global beer market. This behemoth, which accounts for nearly 30% of global beer sales and 46% of global beer profits, leaves Heineken NV HEINY
trailing in the second spot, with only 11% share of the global beer market.
AB InBev also retains its leading position in the U.S., with 44% share in the beer market, while Molson Coors has grown incredibly to become the second-largest brewer controlling about 25% market share.
While these iterations raise the optimism of investors, we note that shares of AB InBev have underperformed the Zacks categorized Beverages - Alcohol
industry on a year-to-date basis. AB InBev's shares increased nearly 4.1%, while the industry jumped 7%.
AB InBev currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).
You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .
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