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Drinks

AB InBev-SABMiller Deal Advances With China, Investor Support

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s takeover of SABMiller Plc moved closer to completion as China’s Ministry of Commerce conditionally approved the 78.5-billion-pound ($103.4 billion) deal and the target’s shareholders began lining up in favor of the transaction after the buyer raised its bid.

Chinese antitrust authorities gave the “Megabrew” merger its last major regulatory approval Friday after London-based SABMiller agreed in March to sell its 49 percent stake in Snow, China’s top-selling beer, to local partner China Resources Beer (Holdings) Co. The Snow deal is conditional on the successful acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev and is expected to close in conjunction with that merger, according to AB InBev.

Major SABMiller shareholders have signaled they favor AB InBev’s sweetened bid as the target’s board prepares to meet to vote on whether to recommend the deal, people familiar with the process said Thursday. AB InBev on July 26 raised its cash offer by one pound a share to 45 pounds and also increased the amount of cash for shareholders who choose a cash-and-stock alternative. Marshall Wace LLP, a London-based hedge fund, said Friday it supports the new proposal. It controls more than 1 percent of SABMiller’s stock.

The deal was tested after SABMiller suspended integration of the two brewers following resistance from shareholders who say they haven’t been compensated enough for the pound’s recent plunge.

AB InBev gained 2.9 percent to 113.45 euros at 12:50 p.m. in Brussels. SABMiller advanced 1.5 percent to 43.91 pounds. The Belgian brewer Friday repeated it aims to complete the acquisition this year as it reported second-quarter profit growth that missed analysts’ estimates on challenging markets in South America.

News by Bloomberg, edited by ESM. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.

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