Anheuser-Busch InBev Tries to Swallow SABMiller

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Anheuser-Busch InBev said Wednesday it has approached rival SABMiller with a takeover offer, a deal that would combine the two biggest brewers into a global beer behemoth.

Leuven, Belgium-based AB InBev said in a statement that its intention is “to work with SABMiller’s board toward a recommended transaction.”

SABMiller, based in London, said it “will review and respond as appropriate to any proposal which might be made.”

AB InBev makes more than 200 beers, including Budweiser and Corona, and operates in 25 countries. SABMiller makes more than 200 beers, including Miller Genuine Draft and Pilsner Urquell, and has operations in more than 80 countries.

The combined company would have a market capitalization of about $275 billion.

AB InBev’s offer comes as consumer tastes are changing and craft brewing is becoming more popular, forcing beer giants to adjust.

Last week, MillerCoors said it took a majority stake in San Diego craft brewery Saint Archer, which is known for its ales.

Just days earlier, Heineken said it would take a 50 percent stake in Lagunitas Brewing Co., a popular Petaluma, Calif.-based craft brewer with a strong national presence.

More such deals could be coming as craft beer continues to outperform the overall U.S. beer market, and now represents 11 percent of total volumes.

Nationwide, the number of craft breweries increased to 3,418 last year, a 19.4 percent jump from the year before, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group.