Comment - Has Heineken Got the Hots for Schincariol?
It's easy to see why Heineken would be ogling Schincariol, and it's unlikely to be the Brazilian brewer's only potential suitor.
There are several reasons to believe why Heineken might make a move on family-owned Schincariol in the near future.
Firstly, all major brewers generally run the rule over all possible acquisitions targets. If there is any suggestion that Schincariol is available to buy, therefore, you would expect not only Heineken but also the likes of SABMiller to be having a sniff.
Secondly, Brazil's beer market is hot property. It is already one of the world's most profitable beer markets, while the national economy is also on the up. Anheuser-Busch InBev's AmBev dominates the sector with 70% volume share, meaning that outside challengers will have to fight for share in the emerging premium beer category, rather than attempt to usurp AmBev outright. Schincariol sits a long way behind AmBev, with a share of only around 11%, but it represents a rare opportunity to gain a footprint of any significance in Brazil.
Heineken has made no secret of its mission to grow share in Brazil with its namesake brand, after acquiring a distribution foothold there through its acquisition of Mexico-based FEMSA Cerveza last year. Latin America in general is key to Heineken's emerging markets strategy.
The third reason for suspecting that Heineken may have designs on Schincariol is that, last week, the Netherlands-based brewer secured a EUR2bn (US$2.9bn), five-year revolving credit facility. Rather unusually, Heineken made a point of stating that this could be used for general corporate purposes "including acquisitions". Coincidentally, Schincariol could be worth around US$2bn, according to a Sunday Times report last month.
While Heineken weighs up an offer for the Brazilian group, rival SABMiller could provide competition. Is this FEMSA Cerveza round two? After all, Latin America is also a big region for SABMiller, which also joined the bidding for FEMSA at the end of 2009.
However, the Peroni brewer has been more coy than Heineken on its intentions in Brazil.
Last year, SABMiller acquired the third largest brewer, Casa Isenbeck, in Argentina - another A-B InBev stronghold. Several analysts believe that it is only a matter of time before SABMiller has a tilt at Brazil, but group CEO Graham Mackay has always appeared cautious about taking on A-B InBev in its own backyard.
Schincariol's family ownership might also make a takeover tricky to negotiate for any potential buyer.
That said, given Brazil's potential as a market and dwindling acquisition opportunities in emerging markets around the world, Schincariol is likely to be on any multinational brewer's radar.
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