Playing the barbarians off against the barbarians

Harbin Brewery management have played a clever and very lucrative game by playing Anheuser off against SAB Miller.

Harbin management must be rubbing their hands with glee following the stunning HK$5.58 per share mandatory offer Anheuser Bush AB has put forward to pay for their brewery. It seems they are now due to pick up yet another cash bonanza after playing two barbarians off against each other.

The two foreign bidders are pitted against each other for a brewery with a domestic market share of only 4% and profits of HK$190 million $24.3 million in 2003, down 10% on the previous year.

If it succeeds, AB will pay $720 million for the privilege of owning Harbin, while SAB will be strategically back to...

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