Belgium's AB InBev to reacquire Oriental Brewery Co Ltd from KKR & Co, Affinity Equity Partners Ltd- sources

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 17, 2014 10:02 PM EST

Sources told Bloomberg that Leuven, Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is looking to buy Oriental Brewery Co Ltd back from KKR & Co and Affinity Equity Partners Ltd. AB InBev is the world's largest brewery company while Oriental Brewery is a brewer in South Korea.

The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential, said a deal could be announced as early as next week.

In an effort to reduce debt after its $52 billion acquisition of Anheuser-Busch Cos, AB InBev sold Oriental Brewery to KKR for a price tag of $1.8 billion. The private equity firm then sold Affinity Equity Partners half of the asset. Under the agreement entered into by AB InBev and KKR in 2009, the brewer holds the right to repurchase the South Korean brewer this year following pre-agreed terms, Bloomberg reported.

On January 12, the Korea Times reported that the original deal stipulated that AB InBev can buy back the asset for around $4.15 billion, representing 11 times earnings before interest, taxation and amortization. Reuters reported on January 17 that the deal could be worth over $4.5 billion, the report said.

Brewers and distillers are busy buying emerging market assets as a growth decline is felt in developed economies. Last month, Carlsberg A/S gave an offer to eight Chinese breweries amounting to CNY 1.56 billion or $258 million which Chongqing Beer Group Co accepted, the report said. Carlsberg is the fourth largest brewer in the world.

Bud Light and Stella Artois are some of the brands sold by AB InBev. Through various acquisitions, which included gaining control of Mexico-based Grupo Modelo last year for a price tag of $20.1 billion, it has become the largest beer manufacturer in the world.

Information from KKR's website showed that the brands sold by Oriental Breweries include OB Golden Lager, Cass and Cafri, the report said.

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