Business News 2.8.2016 01:43 pm

SABMiller and AB Inbev propose October deadline

SABMiller's Newlands Brewery (Cape Town). Image: Moneyweb

SABMiller's Newlands Brewery (Cape Town). Image: Moneyweb

The mega-merger between the world’s two largest brewers SABMiller and AB Inbev could be completed in October.

SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB Inbev) on Tuesday released an agreed timetable of steps to a proposed October completion of their revised £79 billion mega-merger, further putting to rest fears that the deal was beginning to look shaky.

In a statement on Tuesday, SABMiller confirmed that all pre-conditions had been met at the revised cash offer price of £45 a share, which AB Inbev raised from £44 early last week.

The statement added that completion was still subject to a number of conditions, including approval by both companies’ shareholders.

Some SABMiller shareholders say they will vote against the deal, arguing that the FTSE-10 company is worth more on its own. Even so, the deal had looked pretty certain before last month’s vote by the British people to leave Europe sent the value of the pound downwards, taking some fizz out of the offer of £44 a share.

Some concerns remain over whether AB Inbev’s cash and shares offer is more favourable to SABMiller’s two biggest shareholders, Altria and BevCo. Questions persist over whether the two, which together own more than 40% of SABMiller’s shares, should be included in a vote on the cash offer.

The pound’s fall combined with gains in AB InBev’s share price made the cash deal look a lot less appetising than the partial share alternative. Strictly speaking, both offers are available to all shareholders but the structuring of the deal makes smaller investors less likely to go for the part-shares deal.

SABMiller chairman Jan du Plessis said: “We are cognisant that the partial share alternative initially stood at a discount to the cash consideration, but recent events have resulted in it now standing at a headline premium.”

SABMiller confirmed on Tuesday that it had decided to ask the UK court to treat Altria and BevCo as a separate class of shareholders, and said a hearing was expected to take place at the UK Companies Court on August 22.

After that, the expected timetable envisages publication of key transaction documents on August 26, shareholder meetings of both companies on September 28 and completion of the combination on October 10.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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