Is SAB Miller on the Run from an A-B InBev Takeover?


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!!

plp kiss



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Categories: Beer, big beer, News


Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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16 Comments on “Is SAB Miller on the Run from an A-B InBev Takeover?”

  1. July 18, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I guess they saw Comcast and Time-Warner having all the fun, and wanted in on that hot, corporate action.

    • July 18, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Mmm…oil the chairs in the boardroom and lets merge into one!!

      • July 18, 2014 at 10:03 am #

        Wonder Corporation Powers Activate! Form of: Monopoly!

        • July 18, 2014 at 10:05 am #

          Wonder Congress Powers Activate! Form of: Spineless Puppets!

        • July 18, 2014 at 10:09 am #

          Sounds like the makings of a pretty awesome web comic.

        • July 18, 2014 at 10:12 am #

          Yes, pretty awesome, and deeply, deeply depressing!

  2. Bill
    July 18, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    On the bright side…a lot of crappy beers will be in one place…easier to avoid perhaps…

    • July 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

      It’s like that dictator meeting Frank Drebin busted up in Beirut…

  3. July 18, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    Firstly, big corps like this aren’t in the business of making and selling product, they’re in the business of splitting and selling stocks and providing large quarterly dividends (and enormous exec bonuses of course.) Thus, saving money becomes more important than providing quality. Secondly, this is the way all big business is going. Eventually, everything out there will be owned by one corp. At that point, they’ll have to find a new hobby because there won’t be anybody left to compete with. It is for just this reason that micros and crafties have been able to attract so much of the consumer base. Everything Big Beer offers is coming to be of a vanilla-flavored, McDonaldized, plastic sameness. (New slogan: Budweiser, the Soylent Green of beers.) Thirdly, if this does happen, Miller will be getting its come-uppance for gobbling up all those old, local Midwestern breweries back in the mid 20th Century (yes, I do still resent them for that.)

    • July 18, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      You forgot to mention that the final mega-corp will be owned by the Chinese and headquartered in the Cayman Islands.

  4. July 18, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    It is hard to care too much when big beer companies making terrible bear slug it out, but SABMiller actually does have some decent-tasting beers (I call them easy-drinking).

    • July 18, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

      Meh – outside of a Miller High Life at the Wisconsin State Fair (it was once brewed near the fairgrounds, but is no longer brewed in the state) I tend to stay far, far away from their portfolio.

      I will admit for having a weak spot for Leinenkeugel’s Summer Shandy though…

      • July 19, 2014 at 6:06 pm #

        Drink a fresh cold express shipped Pilsner Urquell and tell me SABMiller can’t handle real beer…

        • July 19, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

          Now that they switched to brown bottles, “express” doesn’t have to happen so fast. A great beer in Europe will likely taste as good in America now.

  5. Rick M
    July 18, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    I like the line “they’re only people!”

    So thanks for the heads up. In order to help Terminal Gravity avoid “absorption”, tomorrow I will head over to Enterprise, Oregon and give TG some money. Hopefully I can make a difference in the beer world as I absorb some fine Pales etc.

    • July 18, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      It’s like you’re doing charity work – you should see if you can write it off of your taxes!

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