BRUSSELS - Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed Friday to buy the half of Corona maker Grupo Modelo it doesn't already own for $20.1 billion in cash, in a deal that will greatly increase the size and dominance of the world's largest brewer.
The acquisition would bring under one company many of the world's best-known beer brands -- Corona, Modelo and Pacifico would join AB InBev's Budweiser, Beck's and Stella Artois, among others.
The combined company would have annual sales of $47 billion, and employ 150,000 workers in 24 countries.
AB InBev, based in Leuven, Belgium, said in a statement it has agreed with Modelo's management to pay $9.15 per share for the company.
The companies said the agreement was a "natural step."
"Grupo Modelo has been one of our most important partners for more than 20 years and we are very pleased to evolve our long and successful relationship into this combination," said AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito. "There is tremendous opportunity from combining two leading brand portfolios and further expanding Grupo Modelo's brands worldwide through AB InBev's extensive global distribution network."
Analysts said AB InBev appears to have paid highly for Modelo, but the deal makes strategic sense.
"This is likely to lead to higher margins for Modelo," said SNS Securities analyst Richard Withagen in a note. He said AB InBev will move rapidly to introduce more of its brands into the Mexican market.
"As a result, competition in the Mexican market is likely to remain fierce."
Modelo has a share of around 56 percent of the Mexican beer market, while rival Dutch brewer Heineken NV controls about 41 percent, with brands such as Dos Equis and Tecate.