Shares in SABMiller, which owns Peroni and Grolsch, shot up 5 percent in early trading on Monday as hedge funds salivated at the prospect of SAB becoming a bid target itself. The stock jumped as much as 12 percent in early afternoon trade when the Wall Street Journal reported Anheuser-Busch InBev was talking to banks about financing a possible $122 billion takeover bid. Sources told CNBC however that AB InBev was not in talks with banks to fund a bid for its rival.
''It looks like desperation for a management team that has lost direction and is grasping at straws," a senior source said.
One theory, currently doing the rounds, is that Heineken is biding its time, hoping that the world's number 1 brewer, AB InBev swoops in for SABMiller. That would lead to asset sales, which would mean Heineken could buy the U.S. business, Molson Coors and all the option that goes with it. That strategy is cheaper, it's easier, and rather than strengthening the hand of a rival, you would be helping eliminate it.