Blog: Olly WehringInBev's chase for Anheuser-Busch – when, not if?

Olly Wehring | 29 May 2008

It looks like the timing of my week in Russia – thanks to Pernod – could have been a bit better. Even before my flight left London on Friday (23 May), the rumour mill cranked out talk of the possibility of a takeover bid by InBev for Anheuser-Busch.

The general consensus among the analyst community - it seems - is that the rumours are real, and that it is more a case of when and not if InBev will succeed in acquiring A-B. The benefit for A-B, one analyst told me, is that it would gain from InBev a valuable – and “much-needed” – insight into how to run a brewing company as efficiently as possible.

Another analyst has suggested that – like InBev with SABMiller, it seems – A-B will unveil a Plan B, possibly along the lines of a restructuring package. “A-B will probably do all it can to wriggle free,” the analyst said. “With the share price rising, however, it looks like changes will be afoot one way or the other.”

Although the Busch family only owns around 4% of A-B, the clan still holds quite some sway over the company as a whole. While there appear to be conflicting messages coming out of the Busch camp, the fact that at least some interest in a deal has come out of St Louis would suggest that talks between the two brewers around a big table are on the horizon.

Whether the runours are real or not, meanwhile, I can't help thinking that someone, somewhere, is making a lot of money as A-B's share price rises off the back of the speculation. And it's not me, I promise. 


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