Anheuser-Busch InBev NV clinched its $103 billion takeover of SABMiller Plc after the British brewer’s investors approved the deal, sealing the union of the world’s two biggest beer-makers about a year after the transaction was first proposed.
SABMiller shareholders voted 95.46% in favour of the sale, clearing the 75% needed for the takeover to proceed, the London-based company said in a statement.
AB InBev will dominate the combined entity, whose brands will include Stella Artois, Beck’s and Foster’s lager. The Budweiser-maker will keep its name, ditching that of SABMiller, and only one SABMiller executive will be on the new company’s senior leadership team. The Leuven, Belgium-based brewer plans to cut about 3% of the enlarged company’s workforce.
“AB InBev are paying a full price. They can do with the company what they wish—they can call it what they wish,” SABMiller chairman Jan du Plessis said on the sidelines of the shareholder meeting in London. “That’s the way life works, and that’s fine. It is what it is.”
The deal will provide AB InBev with its first foothold in Africa, a key emerging market in which SABMiller’s predecessor company began by selling beer to South African miners in 1895. AB InBev is more reliant on new markets as sales in more developed regions like the US and Brazil come under pressure. The enlarged company will generate revenue of about $55 billion and account for about one in every three beers sold worldwide.
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 antitrust regulators worldwide. The structure of AB InBev’s bid caused division among SABMiller shareholders, leading to a UK court ruling that separated the target’s two biggest investors—tobacco-maker Altria Group, Inc. and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family—from other stakeholders.
Altria and the Santo Domingos favoured the deal because of a tax-efficient structure designed for them. Others, such as Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, said that they were uncomfortable with the composition of the bid, leading the court to rule that smaller shareholders should vote separately.
SABMiller shares rose 0.6% to £44.90 at 11.15 a.m. in London. Trading is scheduled to end on 4 October, and the takeover will be completed on 10 October.
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