Anheuser-Busch offers concessions to S African regulators for SABMiller acquisition

Anheuser-Busch InBev has offered concessions to South African regulators for gaining approval for its $104-billion takeover of smaller rival SABMiller, just a week it offered concessions to the European regulator.

The package of concessions addresses employment, localisation of production and inputs used in the production of beer and cider, empowerment in the company, long-term commitments to South Africa and participation of small beer brewers in the local market.

AB InBev has committed to maintain its total permanent employment levels in South Africa as at the date of closing, for a period of five years.

The company also agreed to invest Rand 1 billion ($69 million) to support small-holder farmers as well as to promote enterprise development; local manufacturing, exports and jobs; reduction of the harmful use of alcohol and green and water-saving technologies.

As part of the R1 billion commitment, AB InBev will finance 800 new emerging farmers and 20 new commercial farmers to produce barley, hops, maize and malt for the company, with the intent to create additional jobs in the agricultural supply chain.

The company has also committed to expand the production of barley to be malted and to turn a current net import of barley to a net export of malt, a processed form of grain used in beer brewing.

As part of its long-term commitment to investment in the country, AB InBev's regional head-office for Africa will be located in Johannesburg and has completed a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

The concessions also include commitments by AB InBev to support the participation of small craft-beer producers in local markets.

"It is expected that the agreement on terms between government and the merger parties will expedite the merger proceedings before the South African competition authorities," AB InBev said in a statement.

South African Competition Commission had earlier extended the deadline for approval four times and early this week once again extended its scrutiny of the deal, saying it needed at another 15 days to complete its investigation.

Early this week, Anheuser Busch InBev, which owns Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona, had submitted concessions to the European antitrust regulator in order to get approval for its proposed SABMiller acquisition. (See: Anheuser-Busch InBev submits concessions for European approval of SABMiller acquisition)