SABMiller’s Asia beer volumes get China chills

Oliver Smith
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The Peroni brewer saw beer volumes hit by poor summer weather in China
PERONI and Carling brewer SABMiller saw poor summer weather in China hit its larger sales in the second quarter, while strong soft drink sales and higher prices helped to support revenue growth of five per cent during the second quarter to 30 September.

SAB has been trying to offset slug­gish growth in developed markets by cost cuts, marketing drives and acquisit­ions, while also putting more emphasis on soft drink sales in emerging markets.

It said overall revenues rose three per cent in the three months to the end of Sep­t­ember, though the volume of beer sold fell three per cent, a reversal for its core, high-margin business after a one per cent in­crease in the first quarter. SAB added that revenues rose five per cent in the first half of 2014 in a trading update yesterday.

Its strategy is the subject of great interest after an approach to buy Dutch rival Heineken was rebuffed last month, breathing life into long-running speculation that SAB could soon be a target for the world’s biggest brewer Anheuser Busch InBev .

“We continue to believe that SAB­Miller could now be considered to be ‘in play’ fol­lowing its recent Hein­e­ken merger rebuttal and view AB InBev as a potential acquirer,” said Numis analyst Wyn Ellis. “The two companies have complementary geographical footprints, although there would be obvious competition concerns. The potential for synergies would also be very substantial.” Shares rose 1.09 per cent to 3,285p.