Buyout firm KKR takes Bain’s place in Peroni, Grolsch auction: Reuters

The line-up of bidders for SABMiller‘s Peroni and Grolsch beers has changed, with U.S. private equity firm KKR replacing Bain Capital, which was unwilling to engage in a bidding war with industry players, three sources familiar with the matter said.

KKR was not initially shortlisted as one of the final bidders for the brands being unloaded by Anheuser-Busch InBev to smooth its $100 billion-plus takeover of SAB. However, it was later readmitted to the auction after sweetening its bid, said one of the sources.

Other private equity funds including BC Partners backed away earlier in the process, which is expected to wrap up in March.

“Price expectations were pure madness,” said one of the sources, who declined to be identified as the matter is confidential.

AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser, values the brands at no less than 2.5 billion euros ($2.73 billion), said the source, noting that strategic players were well placed to outbid private equity firms, given possible synergies.

Another bidder for the package, which also includes London craft beer Meantime, is Zurich-based investment firm Jacobs Holding, the sources said.

Jacobs, which owns 50 percent of Swiss chocolate company Barry Callebaut, had no comment.

Reuters reported on Jan. 21 that four other parties made it to the final stages of bidding, namely Japan’s Asahi Group, Fraser and Neave, which is part of Thai Beverage, and European private equity firms PAI Partners and EQT.

The bidders are expected to hand in binding offers in mid-February.

AB InBev, SABMiller, KKR and Bain declined to comment.

(Additional reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, editing by David Evans)

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