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Carlsberg has emerged as the frontrunner to take over SABMiller's Grolsch and Peroni beer brands should Anheuser-Busch InBev offload them in the wake of its SAB takeover, an analyst has said.

SABMillers Peroni Nastro Azzuro could be up for sale

SABMiller's Peroni Nastro Azzuro could be up for sale

The Danish brewer is "the most likely bidder" for the two brands that are reportedly in line for divestment to appease European regulators, Stifel's Mark Swartzberg said yesterday. However, Carlsberg would have to pay about US$3.2bn if A-B InBev does decide to sell, Swartzberg said.

SAB has declined to comment on reports over the weekend that A-B InBev is lining up the sale of its Peroni Nastro Azzuro and Grolsch brands. A report in the UK's Sunday Times over the weekend claimed the sale of two of SABMiller's global beer brands would be a "pre-emptive strike to appease competition regulators in Brussels".

Asked by just-drinks if Carlsberg was interested in Grolsch and Peroni, a spokesperson for the company declined to comment. However, the spokesperson added: "M&A is not on our agenda. We are focusing on strengthening our business organically."

Swartzberg said Carlsberg could split the cost of the combined assets with Heineken if the Dutch company agreed to take on Peroni. He said Heineken is unlikely to want Grolsch as the brand competes with Heineken lager in the Netherlands.

A Molson Coors bid "would be a bridge too far" for the North American brewer because it has agreed to buy SABMiller's share of the companies' MillerCoors JV in the US for US$12bn, Swartzberg said.

A-B InBev secured the long-expected purchase of SABMiller last month.


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