Mumbai: Belgian brewer InBev NV has offered to acquire Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc, the largest brewer in the US, for around $46.3 billion, to create the world's largest brewer in the biggest-ever deal in the alcoholic drinks market. (See: World's largest brewer InBev proposes to create $100 billion company with $46 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch)
InBev is offering $65 a share for Anheuser - a 24 per cent premium to Anheuser's share price on 22 May - the day before reports of merger talks surfaced.
InBev said it would like to engage in a friendly dialogue with Anheuser, which dominates the US beer market with a 48.5 per cent share.
InBev, which sells beer brands that include Stella Artois and Beck's, was formed in 2004 by the merger of Belgium's Interbrew with Brazil's AmBev and has its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium and management based in Brazil.
Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser and Michelob brands, is five per cent owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Anheuser also owns 50 per cent of Mexican brewer Modelo and 27 per cent of China's Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd.
Anheuser also operates some non-core assets, including nine theme parks and other properties as also companies that supply the breweries with bottles and other packaging materials.
InBev proposes to make St. Louis the headquarters for its North American operations and the global base of Budweiser, which would be the new company's "flagship brand".
The Belgian company said it would maintain all of Anheuser's US breweries as also the 'Anheuser-Busch' heritage, and would also invite some Anheuser directors to join the new board.
InBev has also sought alliance with Mexico's Modelo, which makes beer brands such as Corona.
InBev is strong in Europe and Latin America while US-based Anheuser has exposure to the Mexican and Chinese markets.
The beer industry has seen a wave of consolidation in recent years, with Scottish & Newcastle agreeing to be broken up by Carlsberg A/S and Heineken NV, and SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors Brewing Co agreeing to merge their US operations.
Anheuser, based in St. Louis, said its board of directors "will evaluate the proposal carefully and in the context of all relevant factors, including Anheuser-Busch's long-term strategic plan", and make a decision "in due course".
The two brewers already have a tie-up under which Anheuser distributes InBev beers, including Bass Pale Ale, Hoegaarden and Leffe in the US and InBev distributes Anheuser beers in Canada.
At $46 billion, an InBev acquisition of Anheuser will be the largest takeover deal this year, excluding spin-offs, and would be the third-largest foreign takeover of a US company ever.
Anheuser Busch, founded over a century and a half with Adolphus Busch, a German immigrant, marrying Lilly Anheuser, daughter of a US brewer, has for the most part been run by the Busch family.
The family's hold on the brewer dwindled over time to the point where it now could no longer veto a takeover, but it still has some influence on its board of directors.