InBev, Anheuser-Busch in merger talks: magazine

BRUSSELS Thu Feb 7, 2008 4:42am EST

Carlos Brito, chief executive of InBev, the world's biggest brewer, presents the company's annual results in Leuven March 1, 2007. InBev and U.S. Anheuser-Busch are in talks that could lead to a merger of the two, Belgian business magazine Trends said on Thursday. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Carlos Brito, chief executive of InBev, the world's biggest brewer, presents the company's annual results in Leuven March 1, 2007. InBev and U.S. Anheuser-Busch are in talks that could lead to a merger of the two, Belgian business magazine Trends said on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - InBev INTB.BR, the world's second-largest beer producer by volume, and U.S. Anheuser-Busch (BUD.N) are in talks that could lead to a merger of the two, Belgian business magazine Trends said on Thursday.

InBev, whose key brands are Stella Artois, Beck's, Brahma and Leffe, and Budweiser and Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch have been the subject of consistent merger speculation over the past year.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal said talks between the brewing giants had become more serious and that a deal was possible this year.

Both brewers have repeatedly declined to comment.

Trends noted that InBev was not obliged by Belgian financial markets watchdog CBFA to comment on rumors, but would have to if there were concrete information.

"If InBev is not communicating it must be concluded that there is no information that has a specific character," the magazine continued.

Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico said a year ago that the two were in talks.

Both that report and the renewed speculation emerged in the build-up to carnival time in Rio de Janeiro. Some observers have suggested executives of the two companies have chosen to meet during the festivities.

InBev, overtaken by SABMiller Plc (SAB.L) last year as world number one, was formed from the 2004 merger of Belgium's Interbrew and Brazil's AmBev. The group's chief executive and chief financial officers are both Brazilian.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Dale Hudson)

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