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HONG KONG: AB not looking to merge Chinese ops

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Anheuser-Busch will not merge its Chinese operations if its takeover bid for Harbin Brewery is successful, a senior executive said today. Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires, Stephen Burrows, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch International, said that there is no plan to merge Harbin Brewery with AB's 9.9%-owned Tsingtao Brewery Co.

AB yesterday announced a general offer for Harbin Brewery at HK$5.58 a share, beating a rival bid from SABMiller last week of HK$4.30 a share.

"We think we're making an extremely attractive offer to all Harbin Brewery's shareholders," Burrows told the newswire. Although some analysts say AB's offer is high, Burrows said it "makes sense" to Anheuser-Busch.

"China is the largest and fastest growing beer market - if you want to be a long-term player in the industry, you should have a strong position in China," he said.

Harbin Brewery can strengthen AB's position in the under-developed northeast China beer market, where the US brewer has little presence, he added.

When asked whether AB has prepared any market share target in northeast China, Burrows said the brewer is simply focusing on closing the deal and then learning about its new acquisition.


Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: SABMiller

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