How a tiny Brazilian brewery came to dominate the beer industry

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Reuters

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer maker, is looking to acquire rival SABMiller.

A deal would be the year’s biggest and combine two companies that control beer brands ranging from Fosters to Corona.

AB InBev can trace its origins to a merger between a pair of Brazilian brewers in 1999. After a string of deals that followed, it has grown to more than $47 billion in annual sales.

Those deals now total nearly $115 billion in value, according to data from Dealogic. The biggest was InBev SA’s $60 billion takeover of Budweiser-maker Anheuser-Busch in 2011.

Even the smaller SABMiller is a product of a series of deals, starting with the combination that gave the company its name, a 2002 deal to merge South African Breweries and Miller Brewing.

If they reach a deal, it would combine two companies that control about 58% of the industry’s $33 billion in global profits, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts. That could lead regulators to push them to sell off some of the brands they acquired over the years.

Here’s a run through the biggest deals that created both companies.


It all started with a $1 billion deal in 1999 to combine two Brazilian brewers and create AmBev.

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Reuters

In 2004, AmBev and Belgium’s Interbrew merged to create the world’s largest brewer. Carlos Brito, who now runs the combined company, was CEO of AmBev.

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Reuters

In 2002, South African Breweries merged with Phillip Morris’ Miller Brewing in a $5.6 billion deal.

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SAB factory.
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SIPHIWE SIBEKO1/Reuters

In 2008, InBev struck a deal to acquire Anheuser-Busch for $59.6 billion and create AB InBev.

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Anheuser-Busch headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri.
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Peter Newcomb/ Reuters

Another mega-deal was AB InBev’s $20 billion purchase of Grupo Modelo, the brewer of Corona, in 2012.

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Edgard Garrido/Reuters

For its part, SABMiller struck its largest deal in 2011 with the $13 billion purchase of Fosters Group, Australia’s largest brewer.

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Daniel Munoz/Reuters

Not all the deals have been for big beer brands. AB InBev bought Chicago-based craft brewer Goose Island in 2011 for just $39 million.

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Brendan McDermid/Reuters

SABMiller has bought its own craft brewers, like London’s Meantime Brewing which it acquired in May 2015.

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Stefan Wermuth/Reuters