Picture: REUTERS
DEBT BREWING: AB InBev agreed to buy SABMiller in October for about $110bn. Picture: REUTERS

SABMILLER is to sell its European beer brands Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime to Japanese brewer Asahi for €2.55bn.

SABMiller’s ownership of the brands is seen as a stumbling block for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev’s) proposed $108bn acquisition of the brewer, and the sale to Asahi is conditional on the larger deal gaining approval.

Wednesday’s announcement of the European sale follows last year’s announcement that SABMiller will sell its half of its MillerCoors joint venture to Molson Coors for $12bn to satisfy US competition authorities.

AB InBev said on Wednesday the proposed sale was in line with its commitment to tackle proactively any regulatory hurdles that might block its bid for SABMiller, Africa’s largest brewer and the dominant player in fast-growing emerging economies, where AB InBev has little exposure.

SABMiller acquired 60% of Peroni in 2003 for about €563m and raised its stake in the Italian brewer to 99.8% in 2005.

Its acquisition of Dutch-based lager brand Grolsch was made in 2007 for €816m.

UK craft-brewing business Meantime has been in the SABMiller stable for only nine months.

"It seems SABMiller is getting a fair return on the money it put into these two assets. However, there is no way of knowing without details of the underlying metrics," Avior Capital Markets analyst, De Wet Schutte, said.

Investec analyst, Anthony Geard, shared the view that the €2.55bn offered for SABMiller’s European assets, which also include its Miller Brand in the UK, was a fair deal.

"When AB InBev takes control of SABMiller, they can easily substitute these premium brands for their own like Becks. I believe its German heritage will (fit in) quite well with local customers," he said.

AB InBev listed its shares on the JSE on January 15, a move the company said demonstrated its commitment to SA and the African continent. The stock has lost 3.45% since, valuing the company at R1.6-trillion. The JSE all share index is down 7.56% over the same period.quell.jpg