UK – SABMiller plc has a long-term vision of expanding the boundaries of the beer category and appealing to more consumers through innovation and by challenging traditional perceptions of beer, SABMiller CEO Alan Clark said at an investor seminar in London on Monday.

Mr Clark outlined the company’s long-term growth strategy, including plans to expand beer’s appeal in mature markets.

“Our long experience of operating in emerging markets means we are well-positioned to capture the opportunities from these high-growth markets. But in the more mature and fragmented markets, we need a new approach,” he said.

SABMiller is the world’s second-largest brewing company and is one of the world’s largest bottlers of Coca-Cola drinks. SABMiller is a FTSE-20 company, with shares trading on the London Stock Exchange and the company has a secondary listing on the JSE.

Heineken bid ‘not a defensive move’

Mr Clark said on Monday there was no truth in speculation the brewer’s interest in buying Dutch rival Heineken was a defensive move aimed at protecting itself from being taken over.

In his first public comments since news emerged that Heineken had rejected a bid approach from SABMiller, Mr Clark said it was “not unusual” for his company to be in talks about a deal and that the only unusual thing about its discussions with Heineken was that they became public.

SABMiller “will continue to be assertive and search for growth,” he added at the investor seminar.

Heineken said on September 14 it had received and rejected a takeover approach from SABMiller.

The move by the maker of beers including Grolsch and Peroni was seen by analysts as a way of protecting itself from a potential takeover by global leader Anheuser-Busch InBev, and sparked share price rises for all the major brewers as investors hoped to profit from another wave of industry consolidation.

SABMiller’s shares have since retreated to about the level they were before the spike, amid signs that AB InBev is not planning anything imminently.

It has made no public statements about plans to make a bid, as would be required by the UK takeover panel given SABMiller’s stock move, and AB InBev insiders, including its chief strategy officer, sold shares in the days immediately following the speculation. A person with knowledge of acquisitions would not be allowed to trade.

Still, speculation is swirling about SABMiller’s next move, with analysts and bankers suggesting Carlsberg, Molson Coors and Diageo’s Guinness as possible, albeit unlikely, targets.

Rumours of AB InBev’s interest in SABMiller have abounded for years, since the Belgium-based company with Brazilian management made its mark with a series of astute takeovers, including the $52bn purchase of Anheuser-Busch in 2008. – With Reuters

October 8, 2014;

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