updated 1/13/2005 8:26:40 AM ET 2005-01-13T13:26:40

Brewing giant SABMiller PLC indicated Wednesday it is interested in making a bid for Molson Inc. should the Canadian brewer's pending merger with Adolph Coors Co. fall apart.

The London-based brewer said in a statement that "a Molson transaction would both have strategic merit and could be value enhancing to SABMiller."

"If the Coors deal is voted down by Molson shareholders, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss a potential transaction that may be attractive to both Molson shareholders and ours," the company added.

Molson and Coors shareholders are scheduled to vote in a week on the planned combination of Canada's biggest brewer and the third biggest U.S. beer company.

Opponents of the deal — including Ian Molson, who broke ranks with his family and left Molson Inc. last year — have grown more vocal as the scheduled vote has approached, and the report of London-based SABMiller's interest could add to the pressure on the supporters of the deal.

SABMiller, which was founded in South Africa more than 100 years ago, brews Miller, Carling Black Label and Nastro Azzurro among other brands around the world. Its shares were down 0.3 percent to 837 pence in afternoon trading on the London Stock Exchange.

Coors, based in Golden, Colorado, is the third-biggest U.S. brewer behind Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller. Molson is the No. 1 brewer in Canada, just ahead of Interbrew SA's Labatt Brewing.

Under the proposed Coors-Molson deal, the new Molson Coors would have a market capitalization of about $6.3 billion and would rank fifth globally in terms of both revenue and number of barrels sold.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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