LONDON - Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), the maker of Budweiser and Corona, said Wednesday it has approached rival SABMiller Plc (.pdf) for a potential takeover that would combine the world's two biggest brewers.
While both companies said there has been no specific offer, stock in SABMiller, whose brands include Miller Genuine Draft and Peroni, rocketed 22 percent higher on the news. Shares of AB InBev rose 7 percent.
"AB InBev's intention is to work with SABMiller's Board toward a recommended transaction," the Leuven, Belgium-based company said in a statement. "There can be no certainty that this approach will result in an offer or agreement, or as to the terms of any such agreement."
The beer industry has been undergoing a wave of consolidation as consumers with changing tastes gravitate toward craft brews and wine.
Buying SABMiller would strengthen AB InBev's position in fast-growing economies in Africa and Asia. SAB Miller, formed by South African Breweries' 2002 acquisition of U.S.-based Miller Brewing Co., employs about 69,000 people in more than 80 countries, from Australia to Zambia, Colombia and the Czech Republic.
SABMiller said it "would review and respond as appropriate to any proposal which might be made."
Anheuser-Busch InBev now has until 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 to make an offer or walk away under U.K. rules.
SABMiller sold 324 million hectolitres of lager, soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages in the year ended March 31, generating group net producer revenue of $26.2 billion.
AB InBev makes more than 200 beers, including Stella Artois and Beck's. It has operations in 25 countries and sales in more than 100 of them.