SABMiller investors approve $103bn mega-brew deal
SABMiller Plc investors have approved Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s $103 billion offer, sealing the union of the world’s two biggest brewers almost a year after the deal was first proposed.
The bid was given assent by 95.46 percent of SABMiller shareholders, excluding its two biggest investors, who did not vote Wednesday after a UK High Court ruling. That cleared the 75 percent needed for the takeover to proceed, despite public opposition from funds including Aberdeen Asset Management Plc.
The vote concludes a year-long process that saw the brewers haggle for weeks over price before spending months hammering out asset divestments to appease anti-trust regulators worldwide.
The structure of AB InBev’s bid caused division among SABMiller shareholders, leading to the court ruling on how the approval vote would work.
SABMiller’s two biggest investors, tobacco maker Altria Group Inc. and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, favoured the deal because of a tax-efficient structure designed for them. Others such as Aberdeen said they were uncomfortable with the composition of the bid, leading the court to rule that smaller shareholders should vote separately. AB InBev said it will retain its own name, ditching that of SABMiller. The choice met with no complaint from SABMiller Chairman Jan du Plessis.
“AB InBev are paying a full price, they can do with the company what they wish, they can call it what they wish,” du Plessis said on the sidelines of SABMiller’s extraordinary general meeting in London. “That’s the way life works and that’s fine. It is what it is.”
The Belgian company is seeking $1.4 billion of annual savings from the takeover, equivalent to almost a tenth of SABMiller’s $15 billion in annual revenue. Part of the savings will come from cutting about three percent of the enlarged workforce, or about 5 500 jobs.
SABMiller shares rose 0.6 percent to 4 490 pence in London. Trading is scheduled to end on October 4 and the takeover will complete on October 10, uniting brands such as Beck’s, Stella Artois, Foster’s and Castle Lager.
AB InBev shares are suspended in Brussels. — Bloomberg.