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Monday, July 14, 2008

InBev to Own Anheuser-Busch in $52 Billion Deal

The media is full of reports this morning that InBev's sweetened offer of $70 a share for Anheuser-Busch has been accepted. The new Belgian based Anheuser-Busch InBev becomes the largest brewing company in the world.

The deal still needs shareholder and regulatory approval, but given that foreign ownership in SABMiller and Molson Coors have both been blessed by the monopoly watchdogs, this deal should also be approved. The companies expect the deal to close by the end of the year. A-B will get two seats on the InBev Board and St. Louis becomes the North American headquarters for the firm.

The combined giant has a stable of brands that control a large chunk of cooler space and taps: Budweiser, Stella Artois, Becks, Michelob, Labatt's and Brahma are just a few of the products the firm will market.

The move leaves Pabst as the largest domestically owned brewing concern, but that company actually does not operate a brewery these days. Instead it contracts its production out. Some other larger craft breweries such as Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing (SABMiller) and the Redhook/Widmer Brothers Craft Brands Alliance (A-B) are at least partially owned by one of the international giants.

A-B, Miller and Coors were once the big three of domestic brewers. If you don't count Pabst because it is a contract brewer, that trio now consists of Boston Beer Co., which started off in 1985 contracting all of its production of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Yuengling Brewing in Pennsylvania and Sierra Nevada Brewing in California.

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