Japan's Asahi could swoop for Peroni and Grolsch brands
Japanese brewer Asahi is reportedly considering bidding for lager brands Peroni and Grolsch being put up for sale as part of the takeover of SABMiller.
Asahi, which is known for its Super Dry beer, confirmed it was looking at deals after reports at the weekend revealed it was eyeing the two brands for acquisition in a deal that is thought to be worth as much as 400 billion yen (£2.3 billion).
AB InBev said last month it was looking at offloading UK and European beer brands including Peroni, Grolsch and London's Meantime brewery to help ease regulatory concerns over its £71 billion takeover of SABMiller.
Buying Peroni and Grolsch would allow Asahi to tap into growth outside a declining Japanese lager market, where it has a 38% share.
But it is understood that a number of other potential buyers are also in the frame, such as Heineken, US-based Molson Coors and Bulmers and Magners cider maker C&C Group.
The SABMiller takeover was formally agreed in November after protracted talks.
AB InBev is seeking to get the green light from authorities for the deal, which marks the largest takeover of a UK-based firm as well as the fourth biggest in global corporate history.
To help overcome regulatory worries, AB InBev has been contacting potential buyers for the European brands, although any sale is conditional on its takeover of SAB going through.
The brands being considered for sale include Peroni and Grolsch and their businesses in Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, as well as SAB's Meantime craft brewery in Greenwich, London.
AB InBev has already announced the sale of SABMiller's US joint venture last month, with partner Molson Coors agreeing to buy the remaining 58% stake in MillerCoors for 12 billion US dollars (£7.9 billion).
SAB has invested heavily in Peroni in recent years, marketing the brand across Europe and America to help cement the lager as a global brand, alongside Grolsch.
AB InBev's takeover of SAB is expected to go through in the second half of 2016, if it gets clearance from regulators and shareholders.