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Heineken, Carlsberg Unlikely to Benefit From SABMiller-AB InBev Megadeal

LONDON—Shares in brewers Heineken HEINY 0.50 % NV and Carlsberg A/S jumped last week when SABMiller SBMRY 1.00 % PLC disclosed that Anheuser-Busch InBev NV had approached it about a possible takeover. But not everyone thinks the two companies would benefit much from the divestitures that would likely come with that megadeal.

Since Sept. 15, the day before SABMiller’s announcement, shares of Carlsberg have risen 3.6% through Wednesday’s close, while Heineken’s stock is up 3.7%. Analysts have deemed the enthusiasm overblown, given that there are few clear acquisition opportunities for the two European brewers as part of a successful AB InBev takeover of SABMiller.

If options do become available, though, the larger and more profitable Heineken has more to explore than its far more constrained Danish rival, Carlsberg.

AB InBev has until Oct. 14 to make a formal offer for SABMiller or withdraw, under U.K. takeover rules. But the biggest likely divestiture for antitrust reasons, should a deal go through, would require that SABMiller sell its 58% stake in its MillerCoors LLC joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing Co. TAP.A -0.48 % in the U.S. Together, AB InBev and MillerCoors have about a 70% share of the U.S. beer market.

Molson Coors—which has the right of first refusal to buy SABMiller’s stake—is seen as the most likely buyer, in a deal that could...