SABMiller in­vestors ap­prove $103bn mega-brew deal

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle -

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.

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