- SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev shareholders separately approved a more than $100 billion deal Wednesday that will merge the world's two largest beer companies, according to several reports.
- More than 95% of SABMiller's shareholders voted to approve the transaction, a far higher percentage than the minimum 75% needed for the deal to move forward. SABMiller's two biggest investors, U.S. tobacco company Altria Group Inc. and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, had already agreed to a separate cash-and-share offer.
- The new company will bear the Anheuser-Busch InBev name, AB InBev also announced.
In the months leading up to Wednesday's announcement, speculation still arose that SABMiller's shareholders may not approve the final deal at the last minute. The two beer giants had gone back and forth with increasingly sweetened deals when the companies first announced consideration of the merger last year, but SABMiller shareholders didn't seem to be 100% onboard with the sale of their company.
However, SABMiller's two largest shareholders had already agreed to a separate arrangement for financial compensation, representing about 40% of SABMiller's voting power. SABMiller's board had also already recommended approval of the deal in late July. Then Wednesday, the other 60% voted a resounding approval of the merger, which suggests the speculation that the deal might not go through may have been unwarranted.
Now comes the tricky part: finalizing the sale of different SABMiller brands and joint partnerships and meeting all other parameters set by global regulatory bodies to approve this behemoth of a merger. The deal represents massive consolidation in the beer industry, with the combined company selling more than 30% of the world's beer.
This has craft brewers, an ever-growing phenomenon disrupting the U.S. beer landscape, concerned about distribution and shelf space. The DOJ handed down a series of restrictions to prevent any disruption in distribution for craft brewers, but Bob Pease, CEO of the Brewers Association, told Food Dive he doesn't believe those regulations went far enough.