News briefs: InBev's 'Bud' plans, MillerCoors

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

This week, the US brewing industry continues to look set for
additional shake-ups as InBev threatens to get tough on acquisition
target Anheuser-Busch, while the MillerCoors joint venture finally
comes into action.

InBev may get hostile with brewer bid ​ InBev says that it remains committed to acquiring US-based rival Anheuser-Busch in the best interests of all stakeholders involved, but will not rule out a potential hostile attempt to prise control of the group. The company's first bid launched last month, totalling around $65 (€41) per share was rejected by the Anhesuer-Busch board, which claimed that it failed to meet its valuations for a portfolio that includes the Budweiser brand. Anheuser-Busch, which has itself outlined a number of cost reducing initiatives to ward off potential discontent amongst stockholders, is likely to face an increasingly aggressive pursuit as a result of the rejection. InBev said in a letter published on the company's website on Wednesday that should constructive attempts at dialogue between the two brewers fail, it would then consider all available avenues to move ahead with. As if to prove this, InBev chief executive officer, Carlos Brito used the letter to outline that it had last week filed a suit in Delaware to remind Anheuser-Busch's stockholders of their right to remove the current board of directors. "Under Anheuser-Busch's charter andDelawarelaw it is clear that the eight directors elected after 2006, who together constitute a majority of the Anheuser-Busch Board, are subject to removal and replacement without cause through the written consent procedure,"​ Brito stated. "The purpose of the filing is merely to confirm InBev's strong belief that the five directors elected in 2006 may also be removed and replaced through that same mechanism." MillerCoors begins ​ After months of courting SABMiller and Molson Coors have finally made it official and tied up their US operations under a new joint venture. Since 1 July, both companies operations in the US and Puerto Rican markets have been operating as a single entity under the name of MillerCoors as part of plans to drive operational improvements in the market. The venture chief executive Leo Kiely claims that the venture will serve as a major boost to the overall US beer market as well as its own profitability. "MillerCoors will be entrepreneurial, with the ability to operate with speed and agility in the marketplace, backed by the powerful combined resources of two exceptionally successful companies,"​ Kiely stated. Both SABMiller and Molson Coors will hold equal voting rights in the partnership, though their economic interests will vary between 58 per cent and 32 per cent respectively, to reflect the individual value of the contributed assets. The venture will also include both parties' Porto Rican operations, though their other international divisions will continue to be run separately by the companies. SABMiller claims the joint venture's combined portfolio of brands including Peroni, Miller, Molson and craft beers like Leinenkugel's can offer better returns on marketing expenses. MillerCoors will also be more flexible in brand building and product and packaging innovation, helping to compete with both domestic and global large-scale rivals, SABMiller said. Besides expanding the two companies' brand portfolios, the merger is also expected to generate $500m worth of savings in annual costs by the end of the third full year of combined operations, according to the brewer. These savings will come from optimising production output by combining brewery networks and reducing shipping distances, while also moving to eliminate identical corporate and marketing services.

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