Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (NYSE: BUD) and two Chinese brewers are competing to buy a stake, possibly worth as much as $700 million, in China's Kingway Brewery Holdings Ltd., Reuters said Friday.
Market share in China, the world's largest beer market, has become a prize for international brewers like Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is competing for the Kingway stake against two domestic brewers, China Resources Enterprise, maker of the Snow beer brand, and Beijingg Yanjing Brewery Co.
China's taste for the brew is expected to grow 5 percent annually, twice as fast as the rest of the global market, so getting a stake in Kingway could open a substantial door for Anheuser-Busch InBev into a Chinese market that consumed 11.9 billion gallons of beer in 2010 -- almost twice as much as the U.S.
Kingway is taking bids for equity stakes in six of its breweries, which distribute domestically and overseas.
Anheuser-Busch InBev already has two breweries in China and was the country's third largest brewer in 2010, with a market share of 11.4 percent.
Shares of Anheuser-Busch InBev were down $1.60 to $66.89 in midday trading.