Shareholders at SABMiller to split for takeover vote
A UK court has backed a bid to split SABMiller's shareholders into two groups ahead of a vote on its £79bn takeover by Budweiser brewer Anheuser Busch InBev (ABInbev).
Two of SABMiller's largest shareholders, Altria Group and Bevco, will be split off into a separate group from the rest of the brewing giant's shareholders when the deal goes to a vote on September 28.
Together, Altria Group and Bevco own about 40% of SABMiller, which has brands including Peroni and Carling Black Label in its portfolio.
The shareholder vote requires 75% approval from shareholders.
The court ruling means each group will have to reach that threshold to approve the deal.
The SABMiller board has recommended that shareholders accept the Belgian brewer's all-cash offer of £45 a share, up from its earlier price of £44, valuing the London-listed firm at around £79bn.
Investors including Aberdeen Asset Management and hedge fund Elliot Engagement have raised concerns about the deal.
Aberdeen called the offer "unacceptable," saying it would vote against the takeover, but welcomed the proposal for a shareholder vote split.
A statement issued by Aberdeen Asset Management in July said: "We strongly welcome the board's decision that Altria and Bevco should be treated as a separate class of shareholder.
"This acknowledges the reality of the situation and will help to ensure that the views of the rest of the investor base have due weight."
Aberdeen said it would vote against the deal, adding that it was uncomfortable with its structure and believed it undervalued SABMiller.
The firm urged other shareholders to follow suit.
"We would welcome other investors who value good corporate governance and recognise the superior value from continuing to hold SABMiller as a standalone entity voting in a similar fashion," Aberdeen said.
The takeover of SABMiller by Anheuser-Busch InBev would create the world's biggest brewer, taking almost half the industry's profits.