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16 October 2015 By Breakingviews columnists

It could be called Anheuser-Busch de Bebidas das Américas und South African et Asian Inter-Breweries (ABBASAAIB). But there’s a chance some might think that an over-fermented concoction of beer-merger dregs past and present. Breakingviews columnists brainstorm some alternatives.

Jennifer Saba – Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller are Frankenstein titles, nameplate atrocities that mean almost nothing. In their place, the merged sudsters should look no further than Budweiser. It’s one of the reigning kings of recognizable products. Advert whizzes at WPP ranked it No. 33 in its list of most valuable global brands, ahead of Ford, Pepsi and Exxon Mobil. Plus, who doesn’t love the Clydesdale horses?

Richard Beales – It’s too bad ‘Alphabet’ has already been bagged by Google. Taking a different lead from the IBM end of the technology industry, how about Big Brew?

Robert Cole – Stella references the company’s heritage via Stella Artois – one of the new beer giant’s larger brands. The new name would double as a statement of corporate intent since executives invariably prattle on about wanting to reach for the stars. AB InBev’s implied ambition, meanwhile, is to create $31 billion of value from SABMiller, a business the market last month thought was worth $73 billion. That may be just pie in the sky.

Kevin Allison – Keep the names. Global mega-brewers long ago realized it was the beer brands, not the corporate logo, that counts. A snappier moniker for the holding company may even prove a liability if it gives the craft-beer resistance movement a simpler rallying cry. “Down with Anheuser-Busch InBev SABMiller” hardly rolls off the tongue. Which is probably just how Chief Executive Carlos Brito likes it.

Rob Cox – Just as consumer tastes appear to be shifting towards small-batch and artisanal products, the combination of AB InBev and SABMiller to create The Anti-Craft Brewing Company would offer a refreshing strategic counterpunch. With its focus on mass-produced, uniformly flavored beer, The Anti-Craft is boldly betting against the hops-connoisseur movement, which has led to a doubling of U.S. breweries since 2007 to 3,500. The company’s new motto is still being debated, but early focus group results suggest it will be something along the lines of: “While you can only drink like two double IPAs a night, you never get enough Stella and Bud.”

George Hay – The beer-hemoths should show they have a sense of humour. Ab Sab recalls the quirky UK TV comedy classic Absolutely Fabulous. Ab Fab’s central plot line – in which characters played by Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders continuously explore newfangled and bizarre fads in a despairing effort to stay young and trendy – is also spookily similar to big beer’s endless pursuit of craft beer acquisitions.

Jeffrey Goldfarb – With all the necessary cost-cutting that is on tap, Anheuser InBev Lager (AIL) cannot afford to make any room for SABMiller in the corporate letterhead. What’s more, in this millennial-driven world, there’s value to truth in advertising when it comes to the physical unease that comes from the excessive consumption of the company’s products. Investors also eventually will appreciate the clear advance message in the new corporate name when the inevitable writedowns occur.

Peter Thal Larsen – The new company will brew roughly one in three glasses of beer sold in the world. Why limit its scope to drinks made with fermented malt and hops? ThroatCo would give the company flexibility to expand in soft drinks, spirits, water, wine, and anything else people choose to chuck down their necks.

Olaf Storbeck – One Global Taste Group could build beer brands that minimise the risk customer taste buds will be confused. Be it Italian Peroni or Dutch Grolsch, Mexico’s Corona or Tyskie from Poland, OGT Group’s plethora of global beer brands will all taste the same. Eventually and inevitably, the shape and colour of the bottling and labelling will be the beers’ only distinguishing features.

Daniel Indiviglio – In college, the cheap, low quality beer that you’d see at parties used to be referred to as Beast. That’s what this new giant is peddling – mostly. It is a beast in size and market control as well. Like other predators, it is sure to keep feeding on smaller fry.

John Foley – AB InBev and SABMiller are as big as beer can get. Yet there is so much bad behaviour out there still to be monetized. Renamed as Vice Inc, they could replicate their achievements in complementary businesses such as tobacco, sugar-filled foods, payday lending and the fast-growing category of pharma-botanics. Across the waterfront, Vice could leverage its management expertise, its ruthless cost-cutting skills, its marketing clout and its colossal legal teams.

Antony Currie – Peace Brewery would reflect the way AB InBev and SABMiller buried the hatchet after a takeover tussle that was pretty hostile, at least at first. It would also mark willingness to find common ground with the craft beer industry that AB InBev maligned in its Super Bowl ad this year – days after buying a craft beer maker. “Peace”, meanwhile, is an almost respectable way to describe what many think its best-known brands actually taste of.

Dominic Elliott – Modelo Brewski Corp would be refreshing. It nods to Negra Modelo, the group’s tastiest tipple, and spotlights Latin America, where the combined group will generate about a third of overall sales. The diminutive “Brewski”, meanwhile, captures the affection that befuddled drinkers bestow on their bottles.

Reynolds Holding – Rumour has it that The Answer Company is already taken, but trademark law being as fuzzy as it is, there’s a chance the rights are still available. Need an answer to all your troubles? Have a Bud. Or a Peroni. Or a Beck’s. Or all three.

Martin Langfield – The acronym spiced up with randomly placed uppercase and lowercase letters is so retro as to be ready for a comeback. So AbiSMil. You’re welcome.

Edward Hadas – BEER. No need for Group, Inc, SA or any of that. This is a not a company: it is Beer Everywhere for Everyone, Right? All beers will be BEER’s, sooner or later.


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