Anheuser-Busch a takeover target

Will brewing giant Anheuser-Busch be the subject of a takeover by InBev NV of Belgium?

When that possibility was reported by both The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times' Aplhaville blog on Friday, the potential $46 billion acquisition caused A-B's stock to soar to a record in New York trading.

If such a takeover occurs, it would result in creation of a company that distributes one-fourth of the world's beer. Reduction of overlaps caused by such a venture also would result in many lost jobs en route to saving such an expanded company an estimated $450 million a year.

Alphaville's reported $65 per-share offer would be 24% higher than the St. Louis-based company's closing price on Friday.

What gives credence to the reported takeover is that competitors SABMiller Plc and Molson Coors Brewing Co. are combining their U.S. units. Officials from both A-B, which controls about half the U.S. beer market, and InBev, the world's largest brewer perhaps best known for making Stella Artois, refused to publicly comment on the report.

InBev passed Anheuser-Busch in 2006 as the world's largest brewer ranked by sales. Revenue in 2007 was $19.7 billion, while A-Busch had $16.7 billion. The two companies have had a business relationship for several years, with A-B acting as the exclusive U.S. importer of some of InBev's products.

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