SABMiller Investors Line Up In Support of AB InBev Rejection

  • Two investors hold a combined 5.6% stake in Grolsch maker
  • SABMiller has rallied investor support against proposal

Top SABMiller Plc shareholders pledged support for the brewer in spurning a $100 billion takeover proposal from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, a sign that SABMiller’s attempts to rally investors around its rebuff are working.

In separate statements Friday, Aberdeen Asset Management Plc and Kulczyk Investments SA said the informal offer of 42.15 pounds a share in cash was opportunistic and discounted SABMiller’s potential as a stand-alone company. Kulczyk is SABMiller’s fifth-largest shareholder with a stake of almost 3 percent, while Aberdeen ranks seventh with 2.7 percent. SABMiller said Friday it had begun meetings with shareholders to lobby against the world’s biggest brewer.

“AB InBev need to rethink their numbers,” Devan Kaloo, Aberdeen’s head of global emerging markets, said in Aberdeen’s statement.

SABMiller on Wednesday rejected AB InBev’s latest offer to combine the beer world’s two largest companies, marking the third time it has rebuffed the Bud Light maker. SABMiller’s investors around the globe are now choosing sides in the industry’s biggest-ever deal. Altria Group Inc. -- the biggest shareholder, with a 27 percent stake -- supports AB InBev’s current proposal. An investment banker close to Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, which controls 14 percent, said SABMiller has better growth prospects than its larger suitor. Under U.K. takeover rules, AB InBev has until Oct. 14 to make a formal offer.

SABMiller on Friday also doubled its cost-reduction target, a tactic employed by Anheuser-Busch in 2008 when it sought to block AB InBev Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito from a hostile takeover.

Even if AB InBev wins over SABMiller’s board and shareholders, the merger still could face hurdles. In order to pass antitrust scrutiny, the merged company may have to divest its stake in SABMiller’s joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing Co. in the U.S. and a similar arrangement with China Resources Enterprise in China. The companies also have bottling agreements with rivals Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc.

SABMiller rose 0.8 percent to 3,668.5 pence in London Friday.

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