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Friday, February 16, 2007

Beer Stocks Jump on Rumors of Anheuser-Busch and InBev Merger, Sapporo Takeover

The stock prices of most major beer companies got a healthy bump on Thursday as rumors swirled that the makers of Budweiser and Stella Artois might merge, while at the same time a U.S. hedge fund said it would like to take a controlling interest in Japan's Sapporo Holdings Ltd.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch were up more than 3 percent, while Belgian brewer InBev were up more than 4 percent on the news of merger talks reported in a Brazilian paper, Valor Economico. InBev has major South American holdings.

The rumors caused the shares of other major brewers, from Heineken to Molson Coors, to rise based on the assumption that an A-B and InBev merger would cause other brewers to look for alliances.

While the two giant brewers have not commented on whether or not the rumors are true, Steel Strategic Partners Fund said it is considering taking a majority holding in Sapporo. Steel already owns 17.5 per cent of Sapporo.

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