£71bn brewer merger is biggest takeover of British firm
The world's top two brewers have formally agreed a £71bn tie-up that will bring together some of the best known beer brands and mark the biggest ever takeover of a British company.
Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev unveiled the long-awaited final details of its record-breaking takeover of London-listed SABMiller.
It confirmed it will sell off SABMiller's US joint venture, with partner Molson Coors agreeing to buy the remaining 58% stake in MillerCoors for $12bn (£7.9bn).
The move is part of the brewer's plans to gain regulatory clearance for the deal, which will not only be the largest takeover of a UK-based firm, but also the fourth biggest in global corporate history.
If given the green light, the tie-up would see the enlarged group own a stable of brands including AB InBev's Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, together with SAB's Grolsch and Peroni.
The enlarged company's shares will be listed in Brussels, Johannesburg and Mexico.
AB InBev revealed plans to make savings of at least $1.4bn (£924m) a year from the combined group, which is likely to stoke fears of job cuts.
It said cost-cutting following the deal will see support functions trimmed where they overlap, particularly in merging corporate headquarters and overhauling regional head offices.
Around 35% of annual cost savings will come from making changes in this area, but AB InBev said it expects that "key members of SABMiller's management team and employees would play a significant role in the combined group".
It added it was too early to give details of the impact on staff in each region.
SAB employs around 69,000 people in more than 80 countries and has global annual sales of more than $26bn (£17bn). It has around 800 staff in the UK, with a corporate office in London and an office in Woking, while it also owns the Meantime craft brewery in London.
Belgium-based AB InBev has a 155,000-strong global workforce and makes more than $47.1bn (£30.5bn) in global revenues.
AB InBev said the takeover would strengthen its position in emerging markets such as Asia, Central and South America and Africa.
It said it believes that "more can be achieved together than apart".
Carlos Brito (below), chief executive of AB InBev, said the deal will build the world's "truly first global brewer". He added: "It has long been our dream to build the best beer company bringing people together for a better world and we believe this combination represents a step change for our business and our journey towards that goal."
Alan Clark, chief executive of SAB, said the group's "next chapter will bring new opportunities for exceptional success".
The deal is expected to go through in the second half of 2016, if it gets clearance from regulators and shareholders.
The final terms of the deal come nearly two months after SAB first confirmed an approach from AB InBev. AB InBev sweetened its offer a number of times before SAB agreed to the £44-a-share sale price, while the Takeover Panel also granted the brewers three extensions to the deadline for AB InBev to make a formal bid or walk away.
SAB began life as a brewer in Johannesburg more than 120 years ago and listed in London in 1999.
the number of workers employed by AB InBev globally
savings per year the company hopes to make