Anheuser-Busch InBev to swap Latin American assets with Brazil's Ambev

Anheuser-Busch InBev today agreed to an asset swap with Brazilian brewing company Ambev of its businesses in Latin America, in order to gain regulatory approval for its $106-billion acquisition of smaller rival SABMiller.

AB InBev will transfer SABMiller's business in Panama to Ambev, in exchange Ambev will transfer its businesses in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador to AB InBev.

The asset swap is subject to regulators approving its merger with SABMiller.

"This will allow AB InBev to focus on countries where the SABMiller businesses it acquires are well established, and allow Ambev to initiate operations in Panama through the established SABMiller business and further expand its businesses in Central America," AB InBev said in a statement.

Last month, AB InBev agreed to sell SABMiller's assets in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, including the rights to Pilsner Urquell outside the US.

AB InBev, which owns Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona, has already struck a deal to sell SABMiller's 58-per cent stake in MillerCoors to Molson Coors for $12 billion in order to allay competition concerns in the US.

It even agreed to sell Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime European beer brands to Asahi Group Holdings Ltd for $2.9 billion, clearing another hurdle in the European brewer's efforts to win regulatory approval.

In China, SABMiller is selling its 49-per cent stake in CR Snow to joint-venture partner China Resources Beer, and last month, it agreed to protect South African jobs and create a $69-million fund to support the local beer industry to help seal approval from the South African Competition Commission.

The Australian regulator has already approved the merger but the South African Competition Commission has requested more time to review the deal.

The European Commission has said that it will make a decision on 24 May. It could either approve the acquisition or take it forward to phase-two review, but it appears that AB InBev plans to obtain approval in the first phase itself as the second phase could be time consuming.

In October 2015, AB InBev offered to buy SABMiller for £44 ($68) per share in order to become the world's biggest beer company with about 30 per cent share of the global beer market.