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Asahi buys Peroni and Grolsch to smooth creation of ‘Megabrew’

Budweiser and Stella Artois-owner AB InBev said the deal, which mainly concerns businesses in the UK, Italy and the Netherlands, was conditional on its £71bn takeover of SABMiller going ahead.

The sale of the three brands appears designed to stave off any competition worries that might have seen European regulators raise concerns about the combined firm’s share of the market.

The takeover – dubbed Megabrew in some corners of the financial world – will create a global drinks titan responsible for the sale of one in three beers worldwide.

And the scale of the combined business has seen the prospective partners move to offload businesses in key markets, in a bid to pre-empt intervention from competition regulators.

SAB has already agreed to sell its 58% stake in MillerCoors to joint venture partner MolsonCoors for $12bn (£8.3bn) , while it is also selling its 49% stake in the Chinese firm behind Snow lager, the world’s best-selling beer.

The latest pre-emptive sale includes the Meantime brand that SABMiller took over last year as it sought to buy in to the growing popularity of small breweries.

The Camden Town Brewery, bought by ABInBev for the same reason, will now be the combined firm’s sole “craft beer” offering in the UK.

Both Meantime and Camden Town Brewery have attracted criticism for abandoning their small brewer ethos by accepting takeovers from vast multinational corporations.

AB InBev employs 155 000 people, compared with 70 000 at SABMiller.

Their combined revenues add up to $73bn, which is higher than companies such as Google or PepsiCo.

The deal is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016, pending clearance from regulators and shareholders.

AB InBev will pay £44 a share for SABMiller, up from its initial offer of £38 made privately in September.

The takeover will allow Belgium’s AB InBev to tap into SABMiller’s strength in fast-growing African and Asian markets.

The combined firm, due to be listed in Belgium, is expected to make cost savings of $1.4bn, some of which will come from reducing staff numbers.

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