October 11, 2015 / 4:53 PM / 2 years ago

AB InBev may raise bid for SABMiller: source

A bartender serves a beer produced by brewing company SAB Miller at a bar in Cape Town, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

LONDON (Reuters) - Brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI.BR) may raise its takeover offer for SABMiller SAB.L ahead of Wednesday’s bid deadline, a source close to the matter said on Sunday.

An offer in the range of 43 to 44 pounds per share is a possibility, the source said, adding that AB InBev was unlikely to go as high as 45 to 46 pounds, as some analysts have suggested.

The brewer of Budweiser and Stella Artois is willing to walk away from what would be the biggest-ever UK company takeover, noted the source, who declined to be identified as the matter is private.

Following three rejections -- at 38, 40 and 42.15 pounds per share -- many analysts expect AB InBev to sweeten its offer this week ahead of a deadline for a formal bid set by UK regulators at 5:00 pm on Wednesday.

AB InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito, who went public with the most recent bid last week after getting frustrated by SABMiller’s response, called the 42.15 price “full”. He never called it final, and sources familiar with the matter saw that as leaving open the possibility of an improved offer.

SABMiller on Friday announced an accelerated cost-savings drive, which analysts saw as a defensive move to drive up the offer price. Two of its largest institutional shareholders also came out in support of the board’s rejection of AB InBev’s bid, saying it was too low.

At 43 pounds per share, SABMiller would be worth 69.6 billion pounds ($106.51 billion).

Both companies declined to comment.

($1 = 0.6535 pounds)

Reporting by Martinne Geller in London, editing by William Hardy

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