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AB InBev, others mull bid for StarBev – sources

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and other beer brewers are mulling a potential acquisition of StarBev, the owner of Czech lager Staropramen, sources familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

A deal could be valued at roughly $3 billion, The Wall Street Journal said in its online edition.

CVC Capital Partners has owned the brewer since buying it from AB InBev in December 2009. CVC declined to comment.

This is an asset for sale in a rapidly consolidating industry where there are few, one source said. "CVC wants to sell," said the source, who declined to be named. The source was not authorized to speak to the media.

Other brewers expected to weigh an offer for the business include SABMiller PLC, Carlsberg A/S and Heineken NV, as well as Molson Coors Brewing Co of the United States and Japan's Asahi, and other private-equity firms, The Wall Street Journal said.

A second source, who also declined to be named, said some potential bidders like SABMiller and Heineken may face antitrust issues if they pursue StarBev.

That source also questioned whether ABInBev would want to acquire the business again after shedding it in 2009.

Molson Coors and SABMiller declined to comment. Asahi, SABMiller, Carlsberg, Heineken and ABInBev could not be immediately reached for comment. StarBev also was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, ABInBev and Tsingtao Brewery are among several companies weighing an offer for the brewery operations of China's Kingway Brewery Holdings Ltd, the newspaper said.

Tsingtao and Kingway were not immediately available for comment.

23 Feb. 2012

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