Bankers to the two brewing giants SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev, which have just agreed the third largest takeover deal in corporate history, are set to share in a fees bonanza of up to $235m (£152m), according to estimates from Freeman Consulting Services, a New York-based group.
Freeman estimates that the advisers to SABMiller, which achieved a valuation of $104bn after rejecting four informal offers, will share up to $120m.
SABMiller’s advisers were led by Robey Warshaw, a boutique bank employing just nine bankers, whose discreet London office was used for some of the key meetings, including a final one between the chairmen of both companies on Monday.
Robey Warshaw’s Simon Robey, a former senior banker at Morgan Stanley, played the lead role in the discussions with the SABMiller board, which is chaired by Jan du Plessis. The two men had worked together at the mining giant Rio Tinto, which rebuffed a takeover attempt by Glencore.
The breakdown of fees has not yet been decided but bankers said they would not be surprised if Robey Warshaw received a fee of between £20m and £30m, a sizeable sum to share between its nine bankers. The firm earned £23.9m in the 18 months to March 2015, a period in which it advised AstraZeneca to fight off a bid from the US pharmaceutical group Pfizer.
Robey Warshaw, which operates from a Georgian townhouse in St James’s, central London, is also set to share with Goldman Sachs fees of $90m for its role as an adviser to the gas company BG Group, which has agreed to a £47bn buyout by Shell.
The other advisers included JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, law firm Linklaters and PR agency Finsbury. Those who were involved in the board discussions said that Finsbury’s founder, Roland Rudd, a veteran of takeover battles, played a major role in advising the SABMiller board, which was split on whether to accept earlier bids from AB InBev after major shareholder Altria agreed to to the deal.
Advisers to SABMiller risked not being paid at all if AB InBev had decided to walk away after any of the four rejections. However, banking experts said SABMiller would almost certainly have paid out significant fees even if the deal had not gone ahead.
The AB InBev team, which Freeman estimates could earn between $95m and $115m in fees, was led by Lazard and Deutsche, with Brunswick as the PR firm. Freshfields acted as legal advisers.
The bank advisers will also scoop up a further bonanza now the takeoever is agreed, with AB InBev needing to raise funds to pay for the deal. They will also work on plans to sell SABMiller’s US interests for between $10bn and $12bn to allay competition concerns, and to deal with any competition concerns the combined group has in China.
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