Anheuser-Busch InBev has gone public with an increased takeover proposal to buy SABMiller for $104bn (£68bn) in an attempt to put pressure on the UK brewer’s board to form a brewing giant producing a third of the world’s beer.
SABMiller’s biggest shareholder, Altria, which owns 27%, said it supported the proposed increase and told its board to get on with talks to finalise a recommended offer. AB InBev said it also expected SABMiller’s second largest shareholder, BevCo, which owns 14%, to support the proposal.
If the deal goes ahead, it would be the biggest ever takeover of a UK company.
With a week to go until a deadline for a firm offer, the Belgian maker of Stella Artois and Budweiser said it was willing to pay £42.15 a share in cash for the British brewer, which owns Grolsch, Peroni and Coors.
It is the the third approach AB Inbev, the world’s biggest brewer, has made to buy SABMiller, having privately proposed bids of £38 a share and £40 a share in cash. The latest approach is 44% more than SABMiller’s closing share price on 14 September, the day before rumours of an impending approach reached the market.
SABMiller shares rose 3% to £37.28 in early trading on Wednesday.
AB InBev said it was disappointed that SABMiller’s board rejected its previous offers without meaningful discussion and that it had made its latest approach public to give shareholders in the UK bewer a chance to consider it.
SABMiller announced on 15 September that AB InBev had approached it about a takeover to create a company worth about £180bn. Under UK takeover rules, AB InBev was given until 14 October to make a firm offer or walk away unless SABMiller asked for the deadline to be extended.
Carlos Brito, AB InBev’s chief executive, said: “We had interaction with their board and chairman on a private basis. We were disappointed that they rejected both offers. There was no meaningful engagement with them which is why we thought it was time for the shareholders to get to know what was being discussed.”
AB InBev said it had devised an alternative to its cash offer, available to all shareholders, for payment partly in cash and partly in shares to suit Altria and BevCo.
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 7th October 2015 07.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010