Shares in SAB Miller were on the up today amid talk that the brewing giant could be the subject of a shock takeover bid by an arch rival.

Analysts at Credit Suisse suggested SAB Miller could be poised for an unlikely combination with Stella Artois brewer AB InBev. However, a combination would be likely to require a raft of disposals to avoid falling foul of the competition authorities.

“The continuing ills of the US domestic beer market may force AB InBev’s hand to make another acquisition after the cost-cutting is complete and the company’s balance sheet has de-leveraged,” analysts wrote.

They cited falling consumption and increased competition from wine and spirits as factors in a “moribund” US beer market. “SAB Miller would be the most natural merger partner, as it would provide strong management talent and a robust emerging markets footprint.”

Belgium’s InBev was linked with a tie-up with SAB Miller before its 2008 merger with Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch.

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