The biggest beer merger in history is getting closer to becoming a reality. Beverage conglomerates AB InBev and SABMiller are poised to merge in a $106 billion deal — but first, in order to ease antitrust scrutiny, the latter must unload two of its European labels: Peroni and Grolsch.
Looking to strengthen its foreign market, Japanese beer maker Asahi has stepped up to the bidding plate. In January, it was reported that Asahi had offered $3.4 billion for the pair; now, according to Reuters, the Japanese company is in negotiations with SABMiller to hand over $2.87 billion for Peroni and Grolsch. The deal will also include UK craft beer brand Meantime.
Asahi's takeover of the three European labels should have little effect on drinkers, however: "It'll pretty much be a seamless transition for the brands as far as consumers are concerned. Most don't really pay attention to who owns what," says Jeff Cioletti, beer industry expert and author of The Year of Drinking Adventurously. "It certainly will be good for Asahi. It enables the company to diversify its portfolio and have a bigger chunk of non-Japanese markets." Reuters notes that while Asahi is Japan's biggest brewer, boasting nearly 40 percent of the market share, sales have been on the decline in recent decades as the Japanese population shrinks and wine grows in popularity.
The AB InBev-SABMiller merger will create a beer goliath that will control nearly 75 percent of the American beer market and approximately 30 percent of the global market.