SABMiller may be swallowed up by its main rival, AB InBev
THE world's biggest brewer, AB InBev, is also the most frugal. There are no company cars for senior executives. Carlos Brito, the boss, flies economy class. That is one reason why, with 18 of global beer sales, ABI has a third of the profits.
This will matter in the wary manoeuvres now taking place among the giants of global brewing. On September 14th Heineken, the number three by volume, said it had rejected a takeover proposal from SABMiller, the number two. SAB seems to have been trying to defend itself against a possible takeover by ABI, which was said to be talking to bankers about raising 75 billion to buy its rival. That was little more than a rumour, but industry-watchers suspect something big is indeed brewing, in brewing. And the chances are that ever-thirsty ABI, maker of Budweiser and StellaArtois, will swallow SAB.
The beer behemoth has few other ways to grow. In rich countries, consumption of beer has stopped rising. In America, ABI's Anheuser-Busch division is suffering growing competition from small makers of “craft beer”. The number of American breweries has jumped from fewer than 100 in 1983 to more than 3,000 today. ABI has its roots in Brazil, but there drinkers are suffering from a sluggish economy and post-World Cup blues. This leaves ABI with two options, says Andrew Holland, an analyst at Societe Generale: give its cash back to shareholders or buy something.
啤酒业巨头已无其他发展之路。在富裕国家，啤酒的消费量已止步不前。在美国，英博的Anheuser-Busch部门正面临着来着生产“精酿啤酒”的小型制造商日益激烈的竞争。美国啤酒厂的数量已从1983年的不到100家跳跃式增长到如今的3000多家。英博起源于巴西，但那里的啤酒消费者正遭受着经济疲软与世界杯后的萧条。Societe Generale的分析师Andrew Holland说：这使得英博有两个选择，要么把现金还给股东，要么买些什么。
SAB is a tempting target. Though based inLondon, its origins are inSouth Africa; it has breweries and bottling plants in 15 African countries, where people still mainly guzzle moonshine. It has stakes in 21 others through an alliance with Castel, a French drinks company. Nearly 70 of SAB's sales are in emerging markets, many of which are still developing a taste for beer. Last year its sales by volume expanded by 3. ABI's, in contrast, dropped 2.
If ABI gets hold of SAB it will no doubt try to repeat tricks that have worked well since AmBev of Brazil merged with Interbrew of Belgium a decade ago and then pushed out its American boss: squeeze costs and use the new acquisition as a platform to spread its brands. That was the formula after the merged group bought Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, in 2008. Grupo Modelo, a Mexican brewer which makesCoronaand has been part of ABI since last year, is now undergoing the same rigours.
SAB would be a more difficult undertaking. For one thing, notes Mr Holland, it is more tightly managed than “fat and lazy” Anheuser-Busch was, so there is less scope for cutting costs. SAB is bigger and more complex than anything else ABI has taken on. A knack for cost-cutting may not serve it as well in fast-growing markets. Another problem is that in some countries the two giants' combined businesses would be too big. In America Anheuser-Busch and SAB's joint venture with Molson Coors, another rival, would together have three-quarters of the beer market. InChinathe two would have more than a third. These are not insurmountable problems. InAmerica, for example, the stake in the joint venture could be sold to Molson Coors.
南非米勒将会是一个更加困难的任务。Holland先生指出，首先，比起过去臃肿懒惰的安海斯- 布希公司，南非米勒管理更为严格，因此压低收购价格的范围更小。比起英博收购的其他公司，南非米勒要更大更复杂。压低收购价格的技巧对于快速增长型市场也许并不适用。另一个问题在于在有些国家，这两家巨头合并后的企业将过于庞大。在美国，安海斯- 布希公司以及南非米勒与 另一个竞争对手—莫尔森库尔斯的合资企业共同占据着3/4的啤酒市场。在中国，这两者的市场占有率超过1/3。但这些并不是无法克服的难题。例如在美国，南非米勒所持有的合资公司的股份可能会被出售给莫尔森库尔斯公司。
Despite the obstacles, a merger of the leading two beer companies looks the likeliest of the potential huge deals. Heineken, which is controlled by the Heineken family even though it owns just 23 of the company's equity, has now given notice that it does not want to be bought. Carlsberg, the smallest of the big four, is controlled by a foundation. So the parsimonious Mr Brito may well get his hands on SAB if he wants it enough. Teaching Africans to like Budweiser, however, may prove somewhat harder.
1.economy class 经济舱位
William: I want to go economy class, and I prefer the afternoon.
The airline will shrink economy class to make roomfor the new cabin.
2.talk to 责备；与…谈话
What should I talk to her?
I would like to talk to the manager himself.
3.suffer from 忍受，遭受
Why do people suffer from phobias?
Add all this up and Mr Martin argues that both America and Britain suffer from weak demand rather than enfeebled supply.