The Budweiser brewer said it was considering the $65-a-share cash offer and would “pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch’s stockholders”.
Inbev, which brews Stella Artois, Brahma and Hoegaarden, is based in Belgium but proposes to site the enlarged company’s headquarters at A-B’s current base in St Louis. If the deal goes through, Budweiser would be its flagship brand and all existing US breweries would remain operational.
Although the two corporations have little geographical overlap, analysts believe they have very different business cultures: Inbev is strong on efficiency while A-B is a master of marketing. There is speculation that Inbev would find scope for large cost savings in the American operation.
A-B has a 48.5% share of US beer sales and brews the world’s biggest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch also has a 50% stake in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer, and a 27% holding in China’s Tsingtao brewery.
A merged Inbev and A-B would be bigger in volume terms than the current global leader, SABMiller.
Carlos Brito, Inbev chief executive, said: “We view this combination as a natural next step for both companies, who already enjoy successful partnerships in the US, Canada and South Korea.”
The Busch family still retains a small shareholding in A-B and August Busch IV is its chief executive.
Share prices have been unspectacular in recent times and there has been some shareholder pressure for directors to consider a sale.