(Corrects advisory line-up to remove Lazard)
By Martinne Geller and Arno Schuetze
LONDON/FRANKFURT, June 20 (Reuters) - Anheuser Busch InBev has kicked off the process of selling its small German beer brands Hasseroeder and Diebels as it sheds non-core assets following last year’s blockbuster takeover of SABMiller, people close to the matter told Reuters.
The world’s largest brewer, which owns the Budweiser and Stella Artois brands, has sent out first information packages to prospective bidders and has asked for first bids before the summer break, the people said.
The sources, who declined to be identified, said the two German brands could fetch as much as 200 million euros ($223 million).
They said AB InBev was working with Deutsche Bank on the sale, which would follow its divestiture of SABMiller’s European brands, including Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell, to Japan’s Asahi.
An AB InBev spokesman confirmed the company was considering the future of the German brands, saying it continuously reviews its portfolio.
“We are having discussions regarding the future development of the Diebels and Hasseroeder brands along with their two associated breweries with a limited number of investors that would be able to implement a more focused strategy for these brands,” the spokesman said in an email. “It is very early days and we have nothing further to share at this stage.”
Deutsche Bank declined to comment.
Hasseroeder and Diebels, which have combined sales of about 140 million euros, are sold primarily in Germany with little international business.
The brands are well integrated into AB InBev’s German activities and do not have standalone sales and marketing divisions, making an acquisition challenging for any potential buyer lacking a German presence, the sources said.
German brewers such as Bitburger or Radeberger are expected to express interest in Hasseroeder, one of the best-selling brands in Eastern Germany, as well as for Diebels, which is famous for its top-fermented dark Altbier, drunk mainly in Duesseldorf and some neighbouring cities.
The German beer market has grown increasingly competitive in recent years as consumer habits change and consumption slows, putting pressure on sales and profits. ($1 = 0.8968 euros) (Editing by David Clarke)