Japan's biggest brewer Asahi Group is set to buy SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands, it was reported on Wednesday (10 February). The brewer has reportedly reached an initial deal with AB InBev ahead of SABMiller's takeover by the Belgian company.
The compnay is expected to offer ¥400bn (£2.4bn, €3.1bn, $3.5bn) for the two brands. The deal, first reported by Japanese daily Nikkei, would boost Asahi's ambition to position itself on the international beer market.
"Asahi is obviously trying to put a final price on the table rather than waiting for the deadline at the end of the month," a person close to the deal told Reuters. "But $3.5 billion sounds extremely high."
It is thought that Asahi is offering large sum because of its desire to branch out of Japan. The company currently holds 38% of the beer market in the country, but Japanese people are increasingly turning to wine as their top beverage instead of beer.
For SABMiller, the disposal of the Peroni and Grolsch brands would help with regulatory approval. As the London-headquartered brewer reduces its market share, antitrust regulators are more likely to give the go-ahead to AB Inbev's takeover of the company.
The companies came to an agreement on the £71bn acquisition on 11 November 2015.
SABMiller's £71bn acquisition by the Belgian brewer was agreed in November 2015 after months of negotiations and several bids. The deal, which would create the world's biggest brewer, still has to face regulatory organisations.
Because of the size of the merged company, competition watchdogs are expected to create obstacles brewers. AB InBev is expected to dispose of SABMiller's 42% stake in its joint venture with Molson Coors called MillerCoors. The shares are set to be sold for £8.3bn.
Asahi has so far declined to comment on the speculation. IBTimes UK has contacted AB InBev, but the company could not provide a comment in time for publication.
AB InBev sent out a press release saying:
"AB InBev has been exploring the sale of certain of SABMiller plc's European premium brands and their related businesses (excluding certain US rights) and is pleased to confirm that it has received a binding offer from Asahi.
"Asahi's offer values the Peroni, Grolsch, and Meantime brand families and associated businesses in Italy, the Netherlands, UK and internationally at €2.55m on a debt free/cash free basis."