Beer M&A Brewing: 3 Deals to Watch

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Anheuser-Busch InBev ( BUD) is said to be interested in buying SABMiller for as much as $80 billion according to reports from Brazilian news firm IG. It comes on the heels of SABMiller's nearly $10 billion purchase of Fosters, the Australian beer giant in September.

The combination would put the InBev the world's largest beer maker together with SABMiller, the second largest.

SABMiller's stock rose more than 10% on news of the Anheuser-Busch InBev takeover interest. In 2008, the Brazilian beer conglomerate InBev bought St. Louis, Mo -based Anheuser-Busch for more than $50 billion, ending multi-generation control by the Busch family.

SABMiller, meanwhile, won a sometimes combative bid for Fosters to get its first entry into the Australian continent after multiple bids were offered. Fosters management rejected SABMiller's first takeover attempt in June, saying, "The value (of the bid) was so far from reality, it wasn't worth engaging." SABMiller then took their offer to buy the company directly to shareholders in a hostile takeover attempt this summer.

In March, Credit Suisse ( CS) issued a report that said a InBev and SABMiller merger would make sense and valued SABMiller at over $70 billion. The report said that for such a takeover to take place, SABMiller would likely have to sell its interest in MolsonCoors ( TAP) in 2013, for an estimated value of $9 billion. It would likely sell its stake fully to MolsonCoors according to the report.

Canadian brewer -Molson merged with U.S. beer giant Coors in 2005. In 2007, SABMiller merged its U.S operations with the combined U.S. and Canadian brewer to gain a competitive footing against Anheuser-Busch, the largest U.S. brewery by market share.

Dexia, the largest bank in Belgium today said it will be negotiating a sale of its Luxembourg arm to the state of Luxembourg and a consortium of investors. Called Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, the division is the sixth largest bank in Luxembourg with EUR 41 billion in assets and nearly 2,000 employees, according to a 2010 review of the 30 biggest banks in Luxembourg by KPMG.

In a press release today Dexia said, "Dexia confirms having entered into exclusive negotiations with an international group of investors in which the State of Luxembourg will participate for the disposal of Dexia Banque Internationale à Luxembourg." The Luxembourg government already holds a stake in the BIL arm of Dexia.

The news comes as parent Dexia, a large lender in France and Belgium, has struggled to stay afloat. In 2008, facing a liquidity squeeze, the bank took EUR100 billion in emergency funds and guarantees to survive the financial crisis. As a result, the government of Belgium owns 44% of the bank and France owns an additional 26%, according to Bloomberg. Overall Dexia had 35,200 employees and shareholders equity of EUR 15.3 billion and over EUR500 billion in assets as of June 30th, according to company filings.

The sale would be part of a strategy announced earlier this week to separate the banks stronger assets, Dexia Bank Belgium, DenizBank and DexiaBIL, from those that are impaired. With the proceeds from asset sales, Dexia could then capitalize a bad bank holding distressed assets. It's unclear yet whether government guarantees or nationalization would also be a part of the good bank and bad bank solution.

Facing a tumbling stock and rising credit spreads, this week in a press release announcing a winddown Dexia said, "The worsening of the European sovereign debt crisis and the tensions on the interbank market led Dexia to accelerate its restructuring plan in May 2011. However, in the current environment, the size of the non-strategic asset portfolio (so-called legacy) impacts the Group structurally despite the good credit quality of its assets." The company added, "This is why the Board of Directors asked the CEO, in consultation with the relevant governments and the supervisory authorities, to prepare the necessary measures to resolve the structural problems penalising the Group's operational activities, and to open up new prospects for the development of its historical commercial franchises in Belgium and France."

Though Dexia passed July stress tests administered by the European Banking Authority, finishing with one of the stronger health assessments of 91 of the largest Eurozone lenders studied, it's been under tremendous market pressure recently. According to stress test results released by the EBA the analysis found, "Dexia's strong capital base would enable it to weather the set of assumptions of the EBA stress tests, while still maintaining strong capital ratios, even if these assumptions look very conservative, notably for sovereigns, local authorities and the potential evolution of the funding costs."

According to Dexia its balance sheet was reduced from 651 to 518 billion euros between the end of 2008 and June 2011. After stress tests, the bank also said its tier 1 capital ratio is 11.4%, compared with 10.6% at the end of 2008.

According to The Financial Times, Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase of Skype is set to be approved by the European Commission, avoiding a second stage of review and potentially showing a new phase in Microsoft where it is seen to be less of an antitrust threat. Currently, Microsoft has antitrust complaints against Google ( GOOG).

Skype, the internet video chat company founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis was acquired by eBay in 2005 for $2.6 billion. The company was then sold to a consortium of private equity investors led by Silver Lake in 2009 for roughly $1.9 billion.

When Microsoft announced its Skype acquisition it said on the header of its press release the "Combined companies will benefit consumers, businesses and increase market opportunity." Skype CEO Tony Bates said, "Microsoft and Skype share the vision of bringing software innovation and products to our customers... Together, we will be able to accelerate Skype's plans to extend our global community and introduce new ways for everyone to communicate and collaborate."

In June, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved Microsoft's purchase of Skype because it saw other voice and video over internet competition to Skype from Google Talk and Apple ( AAPL) FaceTime.

In Europe, Messagenet, an Italian internet video and voice communications competitor to Skype argued that the merger should unbundle Skype with Windows and disclose its code, which would allow the users of rival internet communications companies to connect with Skype users.

According to previous announcements, the E.U. competition commissioner plan to make a decision on the acquisition public by Oct. 7.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York