Megabrew: SABMiller share prices fizzes up as AB InBev's takeover cleared by Chinese authorities, but deal's outcome still unclear

Francesca Washtell
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China International Alcoholic Drinks Expo 2007 Held In Beijing
The Chinese ministry of commerce cleared the deal today (Source: Getty)

China's ministry of commerce has given conditional approval to Anhueser-Busch InBev's takeover of SABMiller, but the deal is still on the rocks after the British drinks giant paused integration activities earlier this week.

The competition authority's decision is the final milestone for the deal, dubbed "megabrew", which has been cleared in the three other key markets of the US, EU and South Africa. All the pre-conditions for the takeover, which will be the largest in British corporate history, have now been satisfied.

Read more: EU antitrust regulators wave through megabrew

The Chinese ministry said its approval was conditional on AB InBev selling SABMiller's 49 per cent stake in China Resources Snow Breweries to China Resources Beer, which currently owns 51 per cent of CR Snow.

SABMiller's share price was up 1.8 per cent on the news, to 4,400p.

SABMiller SABMiller | mobile image

Although AB InBev has welcomed the news, the megabrew merger's future is still uncertain after SABMiller told its employees to halt the integration of its operations after AB InBev upped its initial offer of £44 per share to £45 per share.

The deal is now worth £79bn, up from around £71bn before.

Read More: Revenues up at SABMiller as it inches closer to completion on Megabrew deal

SABMiller's chief executive Alan Clark said in a leaked memo: "There should be no contact with AB InBev with immediate effect, and all meetings and calls will be postponed until further notice." However, Reuters reported the pause was not an indication of the board's thinking.

AB InBev pumped up its offer after activist SABMiller shareholders claimed the deal favoured the two largest shareholders, the San Domingo family and the cigarette maker Altria.

Read more: AB InBev-SABMiller deal bubbles along down under

The activists, which included US hedge fund Elliott Advisors, The Children’s Investment Fund and Sandell Asset Management, argued the fall in Sterling since the Brexit vote reduced the value of their stake in their all-cash deal, compared to Altria and Bevco's cash and share option.

"The combination between AB InBev and SABMiller would create a truly global brewer, providing more choices for beer drinkers, including global and local brands, in new and existing markets around the world," AB InBev said in a statement.

Today, AB InBev reported a 1.7 per cent fall in volumes on an organic growth basis, while revenue dropped to $10.8bn (£8.2bn) in the second quarter.

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