The likelihood of a union between InBev and Anheuser-Busch has become a stronger possibility, following SABMiller's acquisition of Grolsch, according to a drinks analyst.

In a note yesterday (20 November), Gerard Rijk from ING said that A-B would probably look to secure some sort of deal with InBev in the near future, after SABMiller said earlier this week that it plans to buy Holland's Grolsch.

Rijk highlighted the lack of premium brands in A-B's portfolio as an indicator that such a tie-up could be likely.

Last year, A-B set up distribution agreements in the US with both Grolsch and InBev. With Carlsberg and Heineken focused on trying to acquire Scottish & Newcastle, consolidation within the global brewing industry continues at a pace, although both A-B and Inbev have been quiet on this front for quite some time. In 2004, InBev - then known as Interbrew - acquired AmBev in Latin America.

Rijk added that SABMiller would probably not enter the S&N fray, although a spokesperson for SABMiller told just-drinks earlier this week that the brewer's move for Grolsch "does not unduly limit our ability to consider other deals which may be in our shareholders' interests".