Megabrew is done: AB InBev’s £79bn takeover of SABMiller completes

Anheuser-Busch InBev completed its tie-up with British drinks behemoth SABMiller last night, combining to form the world’s biggest brewer in a £79bn merger.

The new company, which will continue to trade under AB InBev’s name, will have operations “in virtually every major beer market”.

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AB InBev chief exec Carlos Brito said: “As a truly global brewer, we will be able to achieve more together than each of us could separately. We remain focused on delivering superior top-line growth and increasing shareholder value. Building on our strong heritage, passion for brewing and expanded brand portfolio, we are also committed to helping farmers, retailers, entrepreneurs and communities thrive.”

The newly-merged company will be headquartered in Brussels and over the next couple of years SABMiller’s UK presence is expected to be “significantly impacted”. Around three per cent of the combined workforce will be offloaded as a result of the tie-up.

Shares in the newly-merged company were scheduled to list on Euronext Brussels, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the Mexico Stock Exchange and the ADSs arm of the New York Stock Exchange this morning.

The road hasn’t been plain sailing for the two companies, which finally reached a buyout deal valued at £44 per share last October, after SABMiller rejected other, lower offers.

AB InBev later had to top up the all-cash offer to £45 per share after disgruntled investors argued a joint cash-and-stock options available to two majority shareholders was more lucrative following the post-referendum drop in sterling.

“While it has taken over 13 months to complete, the merger is a landmark deal for the beverage industry and marks the largest takeover of a British company to date,” said Jonathan Buxton, partner and head of consumer at Cavendish Corporate Finance.

SABMiller is regarded as the most complex business to be bought by the Belgian brewer, with many analysts expecting possible complications of integrating AB InBev’s centralised culture with SABMillers’ devolved operations model. Yet, AB InBev’s record of successfully integrating previous companies it has bought provides reassurance to shareholders on both sides, who have concerns about the challenges of merging the two businesses.”

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