AB InBev seeks single buyer for SABMiller’s remaining Eastern European brands

American and European buyout funds are preparing to bid for SABMiller’s remaining eastern European beer assets with some working to pull resources together to buy up the brands.

The breweries located in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia are to be sold by AB InBev, as part of agreement reached with European Union antitrust regulators for the takeover SABMiller.

The sale is expected to begin at the end of September to allow AB InBev time to finalize the acquisition of SABMiller  before negotiating for the brands. The brands include Czech market leader Pilsner Urquell, Dreher in Hungary, Tyskie and Lech in Poland, Ursus in Romania and Topvar in Slovakia.

AB InBev would prefer a single buyer to avoid a piecemeal sale.

Some European and American private equity funds have shown keen interest in the brands. One of such firms is Advent, European private equity firm, which has been conducting preliminary work for some months and has raised $13bn, enough financial muscle to go it alone. The firm has made previous joint-venture investments in Romania brewer, Miercurea Ciuc in 1996.

Others include U.S. buyout funds KKR, Bain Capital, as well as European funds BC Partners and PAI Partners, the sources said.

Private equity funds are happy to invest in central and eastern European brands as alcohol consumption in those countries remain high offering strong growth. For instance, Pilsner Urquell has about 40% market share in the Czech Republic which has the highest per-capita consumption in the world.
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