Here’s How AB InBev Trimmed Business To Make Room For SABMiller

BUD: Anheuser-Busch InBev logo
Anheuser-Busch InBev

It’s no surprise that the over $100 billion acquisition combining Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD) and SABMiller was focused on potential growth opportunities in emerging markets, especially Africa. AB InBev had no meaningful presence in Africa, while SABMiller had a leading >30% market share in the continent prior to the combination.

According to AB InBev, beer volumes in Africa are expected to grow by 44% from 2014 to 2025, nearly three times the forecast global rate. [1] Africa, as a percentage of net global beer volumes, is estimated to reach over 8% by 2025, up from 4.4% in 2000. These compelling estimates back up why AB InBev was interested in penetrating the continent. Why acquiring a beer business that is already well established in Africa made sense is because of the relative difficulty to set up a business in the continent. The beer market in Africa is still relatively nascent, and as disposable incomes increase, and the beer-drinking culture spreads, beer volume sales are expected to rise. With strong distribution channels, and strong brand image, SABMiller brought in an opportunity for AB InBev to increase the reach and availability of its globally renowned brands, such as Budweiser and Corona.

But in order to secure this opportunity, AB InBev has also divested certain SABMiller interests to appease the regulatory watchdogs. AB InBev has now raised ~$27 billion from divestments of SABMiller’s interests in the U.S., China, and Europe, recovering more than one-fourth of the money it paid to acquire the world’s second largest brewer. [2]

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This included:

  1. In the U.S., SABMiller sold its 50% voting interest and 58% economic interest in MillerCoors to Molson Coors, its partner in the joint venture, for around $12 billion. The deal gives Molson Coors the global rights to the Miller brand, and also the right to continue selling brands it currently holds in its portfolio in the country (MillerCoors), including Peroni and Pilsner Urquell. Under the terms of the agreement, AB InBev cannot acquire another brewer, not even a craft brewer, without prior approval of the DoJ. The agreement with the DoJ, and its stringent conditions, will make it difficult for AB InBev to keep adding craft brewers to its portfolio, and thus, could take away the growth opportunity in this segment for the company, which is already facing declining beer sales volume in the U.S. where it has over 40% market share.
  2. In China, AB InBev sold SABMiller’s 49% in its joint venture called CR Snow, with China Resources Enterprise, which has a leading >20% volume share in the country’s beer market, for $1.6 billion. Antitrust concerns led to the divestment in SABMiller’s interest in CR Snow, especially as AB InBev also has ~19% market share in China. AB InBev has reported a decline of 0.5% year-over-year in beer volumes in the country through the first three quarters, however, the brewer has been able to increase its market share in the country as the industry volumes declined by approximately 4.0% in the same period, due to continuing economic headwinds, with most of the impact being felt in the core and value segments.
  3. In Europe, AB InBev sold certain of SABMiller’s premium European brands including the Peroni and Grolsch brands, and related businesses to the Asahi Group for ~$2.9 billion, and recently agreed to sell a group of SABMiller’s Central and Eastern European brands for around $7.8 billion to the Asahi Group, as well. The target business for Asahi in Central and Eastern Europe is spread across 5 countries — Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, including the Pilsner Urquell, Kozel, Tyskie, Lech, and other brands.

Recently, Coca-Cola also announced that it has agreed to buy AB InBev’s stake in Coca-Cola Beverages Africa for $3.15 billion, a stake AB InBev got by virtue of acquiring SABMiller. While AB InBev has had to divest a lot of SABMiller’s interests in the U.S., China, and Europe, this is consistent with the brewer’s apparent strategy to go after growth in emerging markets, and in particular, Africa.

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1) The purpose of these analyses is to help readers focus on a few important things. We hope such lean communication sparks thinking, and encourages readers to comment and ask questions on the comment section, or email
2) Figures mentioned are approximate values to help our readers remember the key concepts more intuitively. For precise figures, please refer to our complete analysis for Anheuser-Busch InBev

Get Trefis Technology

  1. AB InBev-SABMiller investor presentation []
  2. Coca Cola buys African bottling from AB InBev for $3.15 billion []