Food & Beverage

Anheuser-Busch InBev shares fall flat on talk of a Coca-Cola deal

Anheuser-Busch stock slips on possible Coca-Cola deal
Anheuser-Busch stock slips on possible Coca-Cola deal

Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev ended Monday down 1.85 percent on a report that the brewer might have its eyes on U.S. beverage giant Coca-Cola for its next acquisition.

InBev, the world's largest brewer, already completed a $107 billion purchase of SABMiller, but the Sunday Telegraph said Carlos Brito, the Belgian company's CEO, could be eyeing its next acquisition target, Coca-Cola. A deal for Coke, with a stock market capitalization of $176 billion, could provide a big bonus payday for InBev's top managers, the report said.

In intraday trading, InBev's U.S.-listed stock was down $4.26, or 4 percent, at $101.80. Coke's stock was flat.

It's not the first time Coca-Cola has been mentioned as a possible takeover target for InBev. PepsiCo also has been a rumored target in the past.

Under a so-called "2020 Dream Incentive Plan," which InBev has previously disclosed in U.S. regulatory filings, about 65 of the brewer's senior management can share in a bonus if its "ambitious growth target" of reaching at least $100 billion in annual revenue is reached. A deal for Coke, which had annual revenue last year of $44.3 billion, would likely put InBev's annual revenue over the $100 billion mark.

The bonus pool in four years would stand at $350 million, meaning if it were equally distributed among the execs it would equal more than $5 million apiece, according to the Telegraph.

Coca-Cola and InBev declined comment.

A transaction involving Coca-Cola also could reteam Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway —Coke's largest shareholder — with Brazil's 3G Capital. Affiliates of 3G have been shareholders of InBev since the late 1980s, and 3G partnered with Berkshire in 2015 to complete the merger of H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group into Kraft Heinz.

InBev's closing of the SABMiller deal last month led Coca-Cola to terminate bottling contracts in more than a dozen markets with SAB. A deal for Coke could reverse the move and help produce global synergies and cost savings for the two companies, according to analysts.