Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

SABMiller Name to Disappear as Shareholders Vote on Megabrew

  • AB InBev will retain its name after SABMiller acquisition
  • SABMiller shareholder vote result expected today in London

SABMiller Plc’s name will disappear after its $104 billion takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, eliminating a corporate moniker whose roots date back to the late nineteenth century.

AB InBev will retain its name, the Budweiser maker said in a statement Wednesday, after its shareholders approved the beer industry’s biggest-ever acquisition at a meeting in Brussels. SABMiller shareholders are meeting separately Wednesday, in London, and most of them voting by proxy support the takeover, people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The bid requires assent from 75 percent of SABMiller shareholders, and its two biggest investors are voting separately after a U.K. court ruling. If it’s approved, a deal that’s stretched over a year and required regulatory approval around the globe will conclude Oct. 10. SABMiller shares rose 0.2 percent to 44.72 pounds in London, while AB InBev shares were suspended pending the outcome of the vote.

The vote concludes a process that saw the brewers haggle for weeks over price before spending months hammering out divestments to appease antitrust regulators. The structure of AB InBev’s bid caused division among SABMiller shareholders, leading to the court ruling.

Eliminating SABMiller’s name from the combined entity follows AB InBev’s decision to include just one SAB executive on its senior management team. The Belgian maker of Stella Artois and Beck’s is seeking $1.4 billion of annual savings from the takeover, equivalent to almost a tenth of SABMiller’s $15 billion in annual revenue. Part of the savings will come from cutting about 3 percent of the enlarged workforce, or about 5,500 jobs.

A predecessor company of London-based SABMiller, maker of Castle Lager and Foster’s, started selling beer to gold miners in Johannesburg in 1895. It acquired America’s Miller Brewing in 2002.

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