Pabst Would Consider Bid for Michelob

Pabst Brewing Co. would look into buying Michelob from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV should the brand be divested to settle a U.S. antitrust lawsuit to block the $20.1 billion takeover of the rest of Grupo Modelo SAB.

“We would consider the opportunity if it became available,” Daren Metropoulos, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Pabst, said today in an e-mail. “It’s premature to reach out” to AB InBev “right now. But we certainly like the Michelob brand.”

The U.S. Department of Justice argued in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington last week that AB InBev’s Modelo transaction would violate antitrust law by eliminating the “substantial head-to-head competition” between the companies.

AB InBev may have to divest brands, including Michelob, in the U.S. to avoid a court fight over a proposed full takeover of Mexico City-based Modelo, Anthony Bucalo, an analyst for Banco Santander SA in London, said in an October note.

Marianne Amssoms, a spokeswoman for Leuven, Belgium, AB InBev, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail and telephone call seeking comment.

Michelob accounted for about 3 percent of the U.S. beer market and 6 percent of AB InBev’s U.S. volume sales in 2011, Bucalo said. Michelob’s sales volume is about 9.5 million hectoliters, generating about $1.1 billion in revenue.

Pabst “has created a successful business model of buying the orphaned brands of defunct beer companies such as Schlitz, Stroh, Rainer, Heileman, Olympia, etc.,” Bucalo said in October.

Metropoulos said Pabst isn’t interested in AB InBev’s Natural Light, which Bucalo also speculated was a potential divestiture candidate.

Pabst is owned by private-equity firm C. Dean Metropoulos & Co., of which Daren Metropoulos is a principal. The firm is also the lead bidder with Apollo Global Management LLC for Hostess Brands Inc.’s cake brands, including Twinkies.

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