Anheuser-Busch InBev raises informal offer for SABMiller to £43.5 per share

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV has raised its informal offer for rival SABMiller to £43.5 per share, UK news broadcaster Sky News reported today.

The raised offer values the deal to more than $108 billion.

Under UK takeover rules, Anheuser-Busch InBev has until Wednesday (14 October) to table a firm takeover bid or walk away for six months.

A-B InBev has already made three informal offers of £38, £40 and £42.15 per share - all of which were rejected by SABMiller's board, excluding the three directors nominated by cigarette maker Altria Group, SABMiller's largest shareholder with a 27 per cent stake.

SABMiller's fourth-largest shareholder Public Investment Corporation (PIC) holding around 3 per cent stake today rejected AB InBev's earlier takeover offer as too low.

"We have confidence in the board and we will rely on their judgement. They have said the price is too low and we agree with them," said Dan Matjila, CEO of PIC, while Colombia's Santo Domingo family, which holds 14 per cent, said SABMiller has better growth prospects than AB InBev.

At current prices, a merged group would have a market value of around $275 billion, and would combine AB InBev's dominance in Latin America with SABMiller's in Africa, both fast-growing markets, as well as their breweries in Asia.

AB InBev, the maker of over 200 beers including Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell, is among the world's top brewers who had been trying to enter new markets as they looked to overcome weakness in North America and Europe, where consumers increasingly opted for craft beers made by independent players or wine or spirits.

Speculation about the merger which had been rife for some time, is expected to raise antitrust concerns in markets such as the US and China.

The timing of the approach, following over a decade of acquisitions by AB InBev, comes after a drop of around 15 per cent drop in SABMiller's share price since August.

Last year SABMiller and Coca-Cola decided to combine their soft drinks bottling operations in South and East Africa with and Gutsche Family Investments (GFI) to create a group with $2.9 billion in revenue across 12 fast-growing markets (See: SABMiller Plc, Coca-Cola to merge soft drinks bottling operations in Africa).