If there’s one thing “Big Beer” knows how to do, it’s get bigger. It seems like these global mega-brewers are always bidding, buying, merging with or making a hostile play for one another. Imagine if they put that energy into making better beer!
The freshest rumor is that A-B InBev, the world’s largest brewing conglomerate and makers of delightful beverages like Budweiser and the wonderfully marketed Shock Top, are looking to gobble up rival SABMiller to create a brewing behemoth that would produce 30% of the beer in the world.
This makes sense in some regards, as there are efficiencies of scale when two big companies like these come together. You can eliminating redundant employees (they’re only people!), squeeze struggling suppliers even more tightly, and further solidify your ironclad grip on distribution channels. You know, fun stuff like that!
While there are some hurdles to such a merger – SAB Miller would likely have to dissolve its MillerCoors joint venture with Molson Coors to satisfy anti-trust watchdogs – the main obstacle standing in A-B InBev’s way seems to be SABMIller’s reluctance to get into bed with the bloated brewer of bland beers.
It’s kind of like Pepe Le Pew and that poor cat Penelope who’s always getting a white stripe painted down her back. She’ll do anything to avoid the embrace of that damned skunk!
In the case of SABMiller, that means getting bigger fast, too big for A-B InBev to gobble up. This is the same move SABMiller made when they defensively bought Fosters in 2011.
There’s been talk of SABMiller merging with Diagio, makers of Guinness and various other adult beverages. But that isn’t likely because buying the whole business would create management and anti-trust issues, and Diageo doesn’t want to sell off just its beer portfolio.
There’s been speculation that SABMiller might try to acquire Castel, a French wine and beer producer that’s big in Africa. But that move might actually make them MORE attractive to A-B InBev.
Just like the cartoon, it’s quite likely that SABMIller will run out of escape routes and find itself squirming in the arms of their overly amorous suitor. “Come wiz me to ze Casbah – we shall make beautiful musick togezzer!”
While this is all speculation, it’s gaining traction in the business press, much in the same way the Anheuser-Busch / InBev merger did several years back. Smoke, fire, etc.
The impact such a merger might have on craft brewers remains unclear, but I’d certainly rather see these two giants messing with each other than trying to acquire more craft breweries. Better SABMiller than New Belgium or Dogfish Head, I guess.
But still, look at that poor cat!!