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AB Inbev and SABMiller to sell MillerCoors

Two brewers will sell MillerCoors to persuade watchdogs to approve their tie-up

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The merged company will have operations in virtually every major beer market

Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller are to sell their MillerCoors US joint venture for US12bn in a bid to get their mega-merger approved.

The pair said they had already agreed to sell the venture to partner Molson Coors as part of efforts to persuade regulators to give their £71bn tie-up the green light.

The merger will create the world's biggest brewer with operations in virtually every major beer market - potentially sparking competition concerns.

In a statement confirming AB Inbev's offer, the two brewers said: "While the companies' geographic footprints are largely complementary, AB InBev and SABMiller are committed to working with the relevant authorities in seeking to bring all potential regulatory reviews to a timely and appropriate resolution."

Josh Mahony at spread-betting firm IG said: "The resulting mega brewer would be head and shoulders above any other firm in the sector, and this is questionable in terms of the impact it would have upon competition.

"However, given that SABMiller has focused its efforts into Latin America and Africa, this is arguably a deal which would benefit shareholders rather than simply management."

AB Inbev, which makes Stella Artois, said the long-awaited takeover of Peroni brewer SABMiller would value it at £44 per share.

It would strengthen AB InBev's position in key emerging regions with strong growth prospects such as Asia, Central and South America, and Africa.

AB Inbev said in a statement: "In short, AB InBev believes more can be achieved together than apart."

The formal proposal follows a string of offers from AB Inbev that SABMiller turned down on the grounds that they undervalued it.

AB Inbev chief executive Carlos Brito said: "We believe this combination will generate significant growth opportunities and create enhanced value to the benefit of all stakeholders."

SABMiller chief executive Alan Clark said: "The SABMiller story is a simply amazing achievement, and everyone who has been a part of it should feel immensely proud of the value they have helped create.

"I am sure the next chapter will bring new opportunities for exceptional success."

Stella Artois brewer AB Inbev also makes Budweiser, Corona and Leffe, while Britain-based SABMiller - which holds second position - owns Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell beers.

ABI employs about 1,000 people at its UK breweries in Magor, Samlesbury and Mortlake, as well as its company headquarters in Luton. It has at least 200 beer brands.

SABMiller has around 69,000 staff in more than 80 countries, from Australia, Zambia and Colombia to the Czech Republic, South Africa and the US, also producing more than 200 beers.

Formerly known as South African Breweries, SAB acquired US rival Miller Brewing Company in 2002, resulting in the renaming of the group as SABMiller.

A merged group would be worth about £177bn and would add AB InBev's dominance of Latin America to SABMiller's strong presence in Africa, as well as their breweries in Asia.

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