BRUSSELS, Belgium, Sept 28 – Shareholders of brewing giants Anheuser-Busch InBev and rival SABMiller will vote on Wednesday on a blockbuster merger that would create the biggest beer company in the world.
Belgium-based AB InBev, the brewer of Budweiser and Stella Artois, is already the world’s top brewer and the SABMiller acquisition for $104 billion is in line to be the third largest merger in history.
The crunch vote by SABMiller shareholders to clinch the deal in London is set to be followed by a similar vote by shareholders at AB InBev in Belgium.
Early indications were that the deal would go forward, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Most SABMiller investors voting by proxy supported the takeover in advance of Wednesday’s shareholder meeting, the news agency said.
SABMiller’s biggest shareholders had split on the deal in July, throwing doubt on the success of the takeover.
AB InBev in July raised its offer for SABMiller to £45 a share, after sterling slumped following Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the EU. The new offer values the London-headquartered SABMiller at about £79 billion.
Marlboro cigarette-maker Altria and Colombia’s tycoon Santo Domingo family favoured the deal while the powerful Aberdeen Asset Management said it was against it.
In response to that spat, a UK court last month ordered a split of SABMiller’s shareholder base, separating out its largest investors from the smaller ones.
5,500 jobs cut
AB InBev agreed in November last year to buy SABMiller whose brands at the time included Foster’s and Coors.
The deal is expected to boost AB InBev’s prospects in developing markets in Africa and China, where a SABMiller joint venture produces Snow the world’s best selling beer by volume.
AB InBev has already won all the regulatory clearance it needs, gaining backing from China in July and the EU in May.
To win that approval, AB InBev has agreed to a series of concession, including the sale of SABMiller’s Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands to Japanese rival Asahi.
The EU demanded the brewer also divest SABMiller’s business in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
AB InBev has already indicated that it will cut around 5,500 jobs after it completes the takeover, slashing about three percent of its enlarged staff over three years following the tie-up.
SABMiller employs about 70,000 employees in more than 80 countries, while AB InBev has about 150,000 staff in 26 countries, according to company figures.
If successful, the companies will be officially combined on October 10.