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Anheuser-Busch may pay US$1b for Jinxing beer
Updated: 2004-10-20 14:58

US-based Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer and the maker of Budweiser, may pay up to US$1 billion for a stake in China's Henan Jinxing Beer Group, an official with the Chinese brewer says.

An official at Jinxing Beer, located in Central China's Henan province, said talks had indeed been held although no final accord is on the table.

If a deal of this magnitude were to go ahead, it could nearly double Anheuser-Busch's investments in China, which it considers the most important market outside the United States.

Jinxing is trying to change its State-owned shareholding structure and bringing Anheuser-Busch in as a foreign strategic investor would help in that effort, the official said.

The official declined to say how big a stake Anheuser-Busch might take.

For its part, the US brewer, which has a 99.4 percent stake Harbin Brewery and 9.91 percent of China's top beermaker, Tsingtao Brewery, denied contact with Jinxing Beer.

Anheuser-Busch earlier this year aggressively outbid SABMiller PLC in a battle for Harbin Brewery Group, China's fourth largest beermaker.

Jinxing Beer is the top brewer in Henan province with around 10 affiliates in other parts of the country.

According to its website the company has 25 beer production lines with an annual capacity of one million tonnes.

Should it go ahead, a deal between Anheuser-Busch and Henan Jinxing would mark another successful bid by a foreign brewer to buy into one of the world's fastest growing beer markets.

Global beermaker Interbrew has spent more than 600 million dollars so far in China and now claims nine percent of the mainland beer market.

Other foreign brewers holding stakes in Chinese breweries include SABMiller, Carlsberg International AS and Scottish Newcastle Plc.

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