Photographer: Luke Sharett/Bloomberg

Most SABMiller Proxy Votes Said to Back AB InBev Takeover

  • Bid requires assent from 75% of minority SABMiller investors
  • SABMiller shares advance as much as 0.6% in London trading

Most SABMiller Plc investors voting by proxy supported Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s $104 billion takeover offer in advance of Wednesday’s shareholder meeting, an early indication that the deal will go forward, according to people familiar with the matter.

The vast majority of those shareholders voted in favor of the deal, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the tallies aren’t yet public. The bid requires assent from 75 percent of SABMiller shareholders, excluding its two biggest investors, who are voting separately after a court ruling. Additional votes are expected during the meeting, including some from hedge funds that had lobbied against the deal, one of the people said. Most investors cast their ballot by proxy, the people said.

Representatives from AB InBev and SABMiller declined to comment. SABMiller shares rose 0.6 percent to 44.65 pounds Tuesday in London, approaching ABI’s final cash bid of 45 pounds a share, while AB InBev gained 1 percent to 117.35 euros in Brussels. Proxy votes were due Monday at 9 a.m. in London.

“Everyone’s made their own calculations and sees 90 percent of shareholders voting in favor of the deal, and the current spread reflects this,” Jean-Francois Comte, a founder and managing partner at merger arbitrage fund Lutetia Capital, said Monday, referring to the difference between AB InBev’s cash bid and the SABMiller share price.

The structure of AB InBev’s bid divided SABMiller shareholders and prompted the Budweiser maker to raise its offer in July. The British brewer’s two biggest investors, tobacco maker Altria Group Inc. and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, favored the deal because of a tax-efficient structure designed for them. Others such as Aberdeen Asset Management Plc said they were uncomfortable with the composition of the bid, leading the U.K. High Court to rule that smaller shareholders should vote separately.

For a Gadfly commentary on the Megabrew deal, click here

Proxy advisers Glass Lewis & Co. and Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. have both recommended that SABMiller holders support the deal, the industry’s biggest ever, which will bring brands such as Beck’s, Stella Artois, Foster’s and Castle Lager under one roof.

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