As the Dec. 12 deadline for binding bids for former SABMiller’s East European breweries comes closer, Bain Capital has dropped out of the race. The investment firm initially wanted to submit a joint offer with private equity firm Advent International, which remains keen to stay in the race. Advent, which raised $13 billion for its latest fund in March, has the financial muscle to bid alone.
According to sources close to the issue, Japanese Asahi Group Holdings, which was already successful in snapping up SABMiller’s West European Breweries, is the frontrunner in the race for brands like Pilsener Urquell (Czech Republic), Tyskie and Lech (Poland), Dreher (Hungary), Ursus (Romania) and Topvar (Slovakia).
Another bidder, China Resources, which earlier bought out SABMiller's stake in a Chinese joint venture, might be handicapped by China’s new directive to scrutinize and restrict foreign investment in order to reduce the flow of money outside the country.
The seller, AB InBev, is said to speed the process up in order to close a deal by Christmas. Proceeds are expected in the range of €6 billion ($6.4 billion).