Photographer: Jason Carter Rinaldi/Getty Images for Peroni

Asahi, KKR Said to Be Among Bidders Circling Peroni in SABMiller Selloff

  • Mahou, Cinven also consider bids for SABMiller's beer brands
  • Peroni and Grolsch brands for sale as part of AB InBev merger

Brewers including Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. and buyout firms such as KKR & Co. are among those considering bids for SABMiller Plc’s European beer brands, people familiar with the matter said.

The sale of the Peroni and Grolsch brands is attracting interest from Spanish beermaker Mahou-San Miguel Group and Cinven, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. Bids are due in January, and deliberations are at an early stage, the people said.

Selling the SABMiller assets would smooth the way for Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s takeover of the brewer by helping to clear antitrust hurdles in Europe, and could help raise more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), according to some analysts’ estimates. AB InBev is selling assets around the globe to head off potential regulatory issues for the 71.9 billion-pound ($109 billion) deal, dubbed “Megabrew,” that would combine the world’s two largest brewers.

Representatives for SABMiller, AB InBev, Asahi, Mahou and Cinven declined to comment. A spokesman for KKR couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Sponsors have played a part in some of the beer industry’s recent consolidation. In July 2009, KKR acquired Oriental Brewery Co. Ltd., South Korea’s leading brewer, from AB InBev for $1.8 billion. The Budweiser maker reacquired that business in 2014 for $5.8 billion amid slowing demand for mass-market beer in Europe and North America. CVC Capital Partners sold StarBev LP, the maker of Staropramen lager, to Molson Coors Brewing Co. for about $3.5 billion in April 2012 after about three years of ownership.

Peroni, an Italian lager that SABMiller picked up in acquisitions between 2003 and 2005, has more than doubled in value since then and may be worth about 938 million euros, according to analysts at Jyske Bank. Dutch beer Grolsch, known for its flip-top bottle cap, hasn’t fared as well. Bought for about 878 million euros in 2008, the company may now fetch about 268 million euros, the brokerage said.

Meantime Brewing Co., a U.K. craft brewer that SABMiller agreed to buy in May, is also among brands being considered for sale, AB InBev and SABMiller said in statements this month.

Molson Coors has agreed to acquire SABMiller’s 58 percent stake in the MillerCoors U.S. joint venture for $12 billion. The company’s 49 percent stake in China Resources Snow Breweries Co., maker of the world’s best-selling beer, may also need to be sold to secure Chinese antitrust approval.

SABMiller rose 0.6 percent to 4,028.5 pence at 3:45 p.m. in London. AB InBev gained 1.7 percent to 112.30 euros in Brussels. Asahi finished down 2.5 percent at 3,826 yen in Tokyo trading on Tuesday.

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