Image: SABMiller Image: SABMiller

Brewing giant AB InBev is taking the first steps to sell the Peroni and Grolsch beer brands as it prepares to complete the £71 billion takeover of its rival SABMiller.

In a statement, AB InBev said it would start contacting potential buyers. The move is understood to be designed to satisfy concerns over a lack of competition in the market once the merger is completed. Although the brewery firm has not been ordered to sell off brands, it said it wanted to "proactively address potential" any issues regarding competition.

Peroni, Grolsch and London's Meantime brewery are all currently owned by SABMiller, but would be sold by AB InBev if the merger goes ahead. The deal would be the single largest takeover of a UK-based company, and the fourth largest in history.

SABMiller also agreed to exit its joint venture MillerCoors, selling its 58% stake to partner Molson Coors for $12bn (£7.9bn).

Alan Clark, chief executive of SABMiller, said in a statement: "Under SABMiller's stewardship, Peroni and Grolsch have become world-renowned premium beer brands.

"Meantime has been a welcome addition to SABMiller and has a growing and loyal fan base.

"These beers are loved by consumers and we are very proud of them. Until the change of control we will continue to invest in growing these great beers and supporting our talented people who brew, sell and manage them."

If AB InBev receives shareholder and regulatory approval, the merger is expected to be completed in the second half of 2016.