South Africa clears AB InBev's takeover of SABMiller

Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:06am EDT
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By Nqobile Dludla

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa cleared Anheuser-Busch Inbev's (ABI.BR: Quote) $100 billion-plus deal to acquire SABMiller SAB.L on Thursday, putting the world's largest brewer "on track" to complete the merger within the next six months.

The Competition Tribunal, which gives the final word on mergers in Africa's most industrialized country, said in a statement that concessions made by AB InBev to get the deal approved were designed to address both public interest and competition concerns arising from the merger.

The merger will bring together AB InBev's Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona brands with SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell and brew almost a third of the world's beer, dwarfing rivals Heineken (HEIN.AS: Quote) and Carlsberg CARLb.CO.

Having secured South Africa's approval for the deal AB InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito said it was on track to close the merger in the second half of 2016, adding that South Africa was "a market that would play a critical role in the combined company."

Brito said AB InBev would live up to its commitments on jobs and employment, seeking local inputs and stick to plans meant to give blacks a larger role in the business.

AB InBev shares were suspended before the announcement.

The takeover would be the largest made of a British-based company and the fourth-biggest overall of any corporation.

Analysts and investors who have been nervous about opposition from the unions in South Africa and expected delays from the regulators breathed a sigh of relief after the announcement.   Continued...

Photo illustration of beer flowing from a bottle of Stella Artois into a glass, seen against a SAB Miller logo, November 5, 2015.   REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo