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SABMiller China Partner Said to Pick Banks to Advise on Snow JV

China Resources Beer (Holdings) Co. has chosen banks to advise on options for its Chinese brewery joint venture with SABMiller Plc, people with knowledge of the matter said.

China Resources Beer picked advisers including HSBC Holdings Plc, Nomura Holdings Inc., Rothschild and UBS Group AG, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The state-backed company has been weighing a purchase of all or part of SABMiller’s 49 percent stake in China Resources Snow Breweries Co., maker of the world’s best-selling beer, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV may need to sell the stake in the brewer of Snow lager to secure Chinese antitrust approval for its 73 billion-pound ($109 billion) acquisition of SABMiller, which will create a beermaker controlling about half the industry’s profits. SABMiller’s stake in the Chinese venture could fetch as much as $3.6 billion, Nomura wrote in a Nov. 16 research report.

Frank Lai, China Resources Beer’s chief financial officer, declined to comment. Spokesmen for HSBC, Nomura and UBS declined to comment, while a representative for Rothschild didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

China Resources is seen as the logical buyer if AB InBev decides to sell, as it has a right of first refusal, people with knowledge of the matter said last month. AB InBev hasn’t yet decided whether it will sell the stake, and China Resources isn’t set on any particular course of action, the people said at the time.

Beer sales in China will expand 41 percent in the five years through 2019 to reach 683 billion yuan ($105 billion), according to a June report from research firm Euromonitor. SABMiller said its Chinese beverage volumes declined 3 percent in the first half of its fiscal year due to crimped consumer spending, even as China Resources Snow outperformed the market.

Snow beer, which had a 23 percent market share in China last year, outsells all other beers globally, Euromonitor data show. The partnership between SABMiller and China Resources, which began with two breweries in 1994, operates more than 90 breweries across China and employs more than 59,000 staff, according to SABMiller’s website.

22 Dec. 2015

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