(Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev SA ABI.BR reached out to SABMiller Plc’s SAB.L largest shareholder, Altria Group Inc MO.N, before making a takeover approach, Bloomberg reported.
Cigarette maker Altria, which owns a 27 percent stake in SABMiller, has signaled it is open to considering a proposal, depending on the terms, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.
SABMiller, the world’s No. 2 brewer, said on Wednesday it had been informed that AB InBev intended to make an offer which it would have to do by Oct. 14 under British rules.
AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, is also close to lining up a group of banks to help finance a deal and a takeover proposal may come as soon as the financing is in place, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
Banks are willing to offer more than $50 billion of debt for the acquisition, one of the people said.
Analysts have said AB InBev will have to pay at least 40 pounds ($62) per SABMiller share, and maybe as much as 45 pounds, implying an overall price of up to $130 billion, including SABMiller’s debt.
Altria and AB InBev declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.
AB InBev and other top brewers are trying to move into new markets as they look to shrug off weakness in North America and Europe, where consumers increasingly choose craft beers made by independent players or wine or spirits.
AB InBev has grown into the world’s biggest brewer through a string of deals and is the owner of brands such as Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Beck‘s, Leffe and Hoegaarden.
Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila