Three or four global mega-brewers are likely to emerge in the next decade, according to a research report by ABN AMRO, with Anheuser-Busch, Heineken and, probably, AmBev, likely to be the dominant players.

The report says that as bolt-on opportunities disappear, and with domestic rationalisation complete, mega-deals are likely to occur. Scottish & Newcastle's acquisition of Kronenbourg is seen as having begun the process.

ABN says that the pace of consolidation has increased since 1998 with the market share of the top 20 global brewers lifting two percentage points to 59.8% since December 1998, double the trend of the previous eight years.

However, the top four brewers have only 26% of the global market compared with 79% for the top four soft drink manufacturers, 75% for the top four household goods manufacturers, 70% for the top quartet of tobacco manufacturers, and 45% for the top four premium spirits manufacturers.

The company attributes the faster consolidation to the quest for sales growth being centred on emerging markets and premium brands, the low profitability of medium-sized mainstream operations in a fragmented market, the need for brewers to seek overseas acquisitions now that domestic consolidation is completed, the profitability offered by acquiring local operations in emerging markets and adding a premium brand, and the distribution benefits international brewers can offer to local operations.

WORLD'S TOP BREWERS, MAY 2000

Rank Company Domicile Hectolitres (m) World market share %
1 Anheuser-Busch US 130.3 10.1
2 Heineken Netherlands 85.6 6.6
3 AmBev* Brazil 62.5 4.8
4 Miller (Philip Morris) US 55.9 4.3
5 South African Breweries South Africa 55.9 4.3
6 Interbrew Belgium 48.3 3.7
7 Carlsberg Denmark 35.3 2.7
8 Scottish & Newcastle** UK 33.0 2.6
9 Modelo Mexico 32.3 2.5
10 Kirin Japan 29.3 2.3
11 Coors US 25.5 2.0
12 Asahi Japan 24.9 1.9
13 Bavaria (Santo Domingo)*** Colombia 23.2 1.8
14 FEMSA Mexico 22.5 1.7
15 Guinness (Diageo) Ireland 21.2 1.6
16 Bass UK 19.7 1.5
17 Foster's Brewing Group Australia 19.4 1.5
18 Cerveceria Polar Venezuela 18.2 1.4
19 S&P (Pabst) US 17.3 1.3
20 Kaiser Brazil 12.5 1.0

Total market size 1292.2
Top 20 brewers' market share 59.9

Source: ABN AMRO

Note: These tables equity account for ownership of volume in associated companies.

* In this table AmBev retains the brands that it needs to sell to comply with regulatory requirements.
** Scottish & Newcastle includes the volume acquired from Danone and is subject to regulatory clearance
*** Adjusted to reflect the sale of Centralcer (Portugal)