It’s a familiar ritual for visitors to British pubs: Shortly before closing, the barman rings a loud bell and makes a last call for drink orders. That warning might be what big brewing companies have in mind now. The takeover bid by the British/South-African company, SABMiller, for Dutch rival Heineken is an unmistakable sign in the beer business – the giants are preparing for a new and possibly final round of consolidation.
Alan Clark, the chief executive of SABMiller, isn’t simply acting out of pure business calculations, but also out of fear that his own company could be swallowed up by the market leader, AB Inbev. In a few years, the global beer business could be completely reshaped and concentrated in three, or possibly only two top companies.