The world's two biggest beer companies are poised to merge — but the smaller of the two is apparently playing hard to get. According to Bloomberg, beverage behemoth AB-InBev reportedly made an informal offer to take over SABMiller for $100 billion, but the latter has dismissed said offer as being "too low."
News of the impending merger surfaced last month. Belgium-based AB-InBev produces big names like Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois, while London-based SABMiller makes Miller Lite, Peroni, and Pilsner Urquell; merging of the two would result in one conglomerate controlling 30 percent of the world's beer market, and a whopping 75 percent of the American market.
A Bloomberg source told the paper "SABMiller communicated to AB InBev the terms at which it would be willing to negotiate after the rejection ... No final decision has been made on a potential formal offer, and it’s possible [AB InBev] may walk away from a deal." A financial analyst that spoke to Bloomberg seems to think the deal is a sure thing, however, saying, "AB InBev is unlikely to have gone this far unless it intends to see it through." Meanwhile, a source tells the New York Post that SABMiller is "leaning toward fighting the expected ABI takeover bid," noting that the company already rejected a $160 billion offer from a Swiss multinational company, Glencore, last year.
Of course, mega beer conglomerates are nothing new: Currently, half of the world's beer is produced by just six different companies, thanks to a series of mergers and buyouts that began in the 1970s. Big beer corporations are also snapping up smaller craft brewers at an alarming rate.
Jeff Cioletti, beverage market expert and author of the upcoming book The Year of Drinking Adventurously, says that while he thinks the deal will likely go through, there are "a lot of regulatory hurdles" and "a lot of antitrust issues that will need to be ironed out" before that can happen. As for what the merger would mean for big beer consumers, he says, "I think it's going to be pretty seamless, and people won't really notice."
The creation of such a beer behemoth would certainly give craft beer brewers and fans something to talk about, however: "At the very least, it creates this even bigger bogeyman for craft brewers to rail against because they’ve always been about creating the contrast between what they do and what the big guys do," Ciocetti says. "Well, now the big guys are even bigger, so the David and Goliath narrative actually plays more into their favor from a marketing and PR standpoint."
Eater has also reached out to both AB-InBev and SABMiller for comment on the situation.