Brewer SABMiller accepts AB InBev final offer: Company

Bottles of beer and cider produced by Belgian-Brazilian group Anheuser-Busch InBev and British brewer SABMiller.
Bottles of beer and cider produced by Belgian-Brazilian group Anheuser-Busch InBev and British brewer SABMiller.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Brewer SABMiller’s board on Friday (July 29) accepted a final takeover offer from rival Anheuser-Busch InBev, the company said in a statement, heralding what will be one of the world’s biggest ever takeovers.

The Belgium-based AB InBev had raised its cash offer to £45 a share from £44 pounds, in a revised proposal tabled after the value of the pound slumped following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

SABMiller chairman Jan du Plessis said the decision had been difficult.

Since the board approved in November the price of £44 per share “...various factors have affected the value of the offer, most importantly the impact of the Brexit vote on the value of sterling and the re-rating of comparable companies,” he said in a statement.

“This has made the board’s decision more challenging, and we believe the final cash consideration of £45 per share to be at the lower end of the range of values considered recommendable,” said du Plessis.

The transaction now values SABMiller’s entire “issued and to be issued” share capital at around £79 billion (S$140 billion), AB InBev said.

SABMiller’s takeover is expected to be the third largest in history if it clears all the regulatory hurdles.

AB InBev welcomed the SAB Miller approval and said it expected the deal to be completed by the end of the year.

“AB InBev believes that the proposed combination represents a compelling opportunity for all SABMiller and AB InBev shareholders and continues to intend to recommend the combination to its shareholders,” the buyer said in a statement.

The announcement came two days after reports SABMiller had paused integration work with AB InBev as it considered the new takeover offer.

SABMiller had asked its employees to halt work on integrating finance, technology, procurement and some supply-chain functions, according to reports in Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal.

ING bank said the increased offer will cost AB InBev an additional £1.5 billion.

“However, when comparing the previous offer at the prevailing exchange rate before Brexit... with the increased offer at the current exchange rate, the latter is actually (more than) US$3 billion lower in value,” the bank said in a note to clients. US$3 billion equates to just over S$4 billion.

The deal gained the backing on Friday of Chinese regulatory authorities and has previously been approved in the United States, European Union and South Africa, where SABMiller has its origins.

AB InBev has agreed to a series of concessions to win the greenlight from the competition authorities, including the sale of stakes in Snow Breweries in China.

It also agreed to sell most of SABMiller’s European businesses, including Peroni and Grolsch which were bought by Japanese brewer Asahi.

The buyout of London-based SABMiller is expected to boost AB InBev’s prospects in developing markets in Africa and in China.