Creating the OPEC of Beer

Combined, Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller would control almost 30 percent of the global beer market.

Why the Beer Industry Boils Down to Two Major Players

Any way you slice it, a combination of Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and SABMiller Plc would mean the big get bigger.

The two companies are by far the largest players in the industry by almost every metric. Market share is the first one that jumps to mind for many merger arbitrageurs who wonder how such a deal would fare with antitrust regulators. Combined, the two companies would control almost 30 percent of the global beer market. To put that in perspective, OPEC controls about 41 percent of the world oil market.

That dominance reflects the companies’ ownership of mass-market brands such as Budweiser, Stella Artois, Beck’s and Leffe (AB InBev) and Miller, Grolsch, Foster’s, Peroni and Castle Lager (SABMiller). The result: The two companies had combined revenue of about $68 billion last year.

To be sure, some of those sales will evaporate if the deal goes through. Analysts say that U.S. regulators are likely to ask for the disposal of SABMiller’s stake in MillerCoors in the U.S., while AB InBev may also have to sell SABMiller’s 49 percent stake in CR Snow Zeijang in China.

—With assistance from Matthew Boyle in London. 

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