SABMiller rebuffs Budweiser owner’s sweetened approach

Beer giant SABMiller has rebuffed a sweetened £68 billion takeover proposal from rival and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, claiming it “very substantially undervalues” the business.

Budweiser owner AB InBev wants to create 'the first truly global beer company'
Budweiser owner AB InBev wants to create 'the first truly global beer company'
Budweiser owner AB InBev wants to create 'the first truly global beer company'

The Peroni and Grolsch firm said its board was unanimous in rejecting AB InBev’s latest approach of £42.15 a share – having already turned down two offers of £38 and £40 a share.

AB InBev has previously said it does not want to make a hostile move for SABMiller, but turned up the heat earlier by making public details of its proposal, adding it was “disappointed” that SABMiller had rejected its prior approaches “without any meaningful engagement”.

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A tie-up between the two would create a global beer giant worth more than £180bn.

But SABMiller said the £42.15 a share offer “still very substantially undervalues SABMiller, its unique and unmatched footprint, and its standalone prospects”.

Earlier, SABMiller chairman Jan du Plessis said his firm is the “crown jewel of the global brewing industry”.

He added: “AB InBev needs SABMiller, but has made opportunistic and highly conditional proposals, elements of which have been deliberately designed to be unattractive to many of our shareholders.”

AB inBev said its latest offer represented a premium of around 44 per cent to SABMiller’s closing share price.

Chief executive Carlos Brito said: “Put simply, we believe we can achieve more together than each of us could separately, bringing more beers to more people and enhancing value for all of our stakeholders.”

Shares in SABMiller have rocketed since AB InBev’s takeover hopes were revealed last month.

The brewer’s largest shareholder, Altria Group, has come out in support of the latest offer. It claimed the deal would create “significant value” for all SABMiller shareholders and urged the board to “engage promptly”.

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“Altria supports a proposal of £42.15, or higher, with a partial share alternative, and, subject to finalisation of terms, would be prepared to elect the partial share alternative,” it said.

“Altria urges SABMiller’s board to engage promptly and constructively with AB InBev to agree on the terms of a recommended offer.”

SABMiller toasted a strong summer for beer sales yesterday despite a “material” currency hit.

It said surging demand in emerging markets such as Africa and Latin America helped underlying net revenues lift 6 per cent and sales by volume rise by 2 per cent over the three months to the end of September.

Good weather also saw net revenues rise 3 per cent across Europe in the quarter, with its Peroni Nastro Azzurro brand remaining popular in the UK, although sales in the region remained flat overall in the first half and interim sales by volume fell 3 per cent.

SABMiller revealed that the strong US dollar took its toll on reported results, with net revenues down by 9 per cent in the second quarter and half-year as a whole.