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SABMiller shareholders approve 'megabrew' takeover deal by Budweiser brewer

Published 28/09/2016

Shareholders toasted the new deal
Shareholders toasted the new deal

Shareholders of beer giant SABMiller have given the green light to the firm's £79 billion takeover by Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, paving the way for the biggest deal in UK corporate history.

SABMiller said investors backed AB InBev's £45-a-share offer, which was upped from £44-a-share in July following the collapse in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote.

The record-breaking deal - dubbed "megabrew" - is now set to complete on October 10, creating a brewing giant with a raft of some of the world's biggest beer brands.

SABMiller said 95.5% of minority investors approved the deal.

AB InBev needed at least 75% to clinch the takeover.

The two largest shareholders in SABMiller - cigarette maker Altria Group and the wealthy Santo Domingo family of Colombia, which together control around 40% of shares - were excluded from the vote, but had already pledged their support for the deal.

Investors in Belgium-based AB InBev also approved the takeover at a meeting in Brussels earlier on Wednesday.

AB InBev said it welcomed the shareholder backing.

Carlos Brito, chief executive of AB InBev, who will also lead the merged group, said the deal will combine the two firms' "teams, strong heritage and passion for brewing".

"We are committed to driving long-term growth and creating value for all our stakeholders," he added.

AB InBev also confirmed the combined group will be called AB InBev after the merger.

The SABMiller vote comes despite opposition from a number of investors, while the vote had also been complicated by the decision last month to separate SAB's shareholders into two groups.

A UK court last month ordered a split of SABMiller's shareholder base, separating Altria and the Santo Domingo family from the wider investors.

There have also been concerns raised by a string of investors, such as Aberdeen Asset Management, while i nvestment firm Ash Park Capital also reportedly wrote to other SAB investors in August urging them to join it in voting against the deal.

But most hedge funds were unable to have their say on the deal due to how they hold SABMiller shares, with only 72% of minority investors eligible to vote.

AB InBev is already the world's largest brewer, but will sell one in four beers after the SABMiller takeover.

It has lined up 16.5 billion US dollars' (£12.7 billion) worth of sales to sec ure regulatory approval worldwide, including offloading SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands to Japanese firm Asahi.

SAB employs around 69,000 people in more than 80 countries and has global annual sales of more than 26 billion US dollars (£20 billion).

But around 5,500 jobs are expected to be axed as a result of the merger.

According to documents released last month, the combined group will slash around 3% of its global workforce.

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