China Resources Beer appoints advisers on SABMiller joint venture

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

China Resources Beer had picked advisers including HSBC, Nomura, Rothschild and UBS, 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% stake in China Resources Snow Breweries, maker of the world’s best-selling beer, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

Anheuser-Busch InBev may need to sell the stake in the brewer of Snow lager to secure Chinese antitrust approval for its $109bn acquisition of SABMiller, which will create a beer maker controlling about half the industry’s profits.

SABMiller’s stake in the Chinese venture could fetch as much as $3.6bn, Nomura wrote in a November 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 did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

China Resources was 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 had not yet decided whether it would sell the stake, and China Resources was not set on any particular course of action, the people said at the time.

Beer sales in China will expand 41% in the five years to end-2019 to reach $105bn, according to a June report from research firm Euromonitor.

SABMiller said its Chinese beverage volumes declined 3% 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% 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.