Anheuser May Start Merger Talks with InBev Tuesday

Belgian brewer InBev, the world's second-biggest by volume, could start talks with rival Anheuser Busch on a possible merger bid Tuesday, according to a published report.

InBev's board of directors was about to decide whether to allow its advisers to start negotiating with Anheuser , Belgian business daily De Tijd reported without disclosing sources.


An InBev spokeswoman declined to comment on the report and said it was not the company's policy to divulge when board meetings took place.

The Financial Times reported last Friday that InBev was considering a $65-a-share bid but while extensive work was being carried out InBev was "not about to push the button."

"If you look at the details (of the press reports) … this only occurs when there are things going on," Kris Kippers, food and beverages analyst at Petercam, told

A merger would make sense for InBev, which does not have a major presence in the U.S., would mean more bargaining power for the new company, and would also benefit Anheuser Busch, Kippers added.

"For the shareholders of Anheuser Busch it would be OK, most savings will be in the U.S.," he said. "The group will be in a much better position for the suppliers."

A financing package of $50 billion had been provisionally arranged through JPMorgan and Santander and that the Belgian company had not excluded a hostile bid, the FT said.

Financing the deal would not be a problem for the Belgian company, even in today's tight credit markets, analysts said.

The measure of the company's financial leverage -- known as the gearing ratio -- is less than one-time earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Kippers said.

InBev shares were down 1.25 percent at 47.30 euros.