Megabrew: High Court delays SABMiller decision on split shareholder vote for AB InBev tie-up

Francesca Washtell
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AB InBev has said it will sell Pilsner Urquell among other Central European brands if the SABMiller tie-up goes through (Source: Getty)

The High Court has postponed making a decision on SABMiller's proposal to hold two shareholder votes on its takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) until tomorrow.

SABMiller had proposed its two major investors, Bevco and Altria, be treated as a separate class of shareholders last month when it accepted an enhanced deal from AB InBev.

The tie-up between the two drinks majors is now worth £79bn and will be the largest deal in British corporate history if it goes through.

The court's decision was due to be published today.

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If it passes tomorrow, public investors will vote separately from Bevco, owned by Colombia's Santo Domingo family, and cigarette maker Altria on the increased offer, which AB InBev topped up from £44 per share to £45 per share after activist investors complained the structure of the offer unfairly favoured the two institutional shareholders.

The dual votes will reflect the deal's split structure, in which investors can opt for an all-cash or joint cash-and-stock option.

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The cash-and-stock option is technically available to all shareholders, however the AB InBev shares on offer cannot be sold for five years and means most public investors must opt for the all-cash option instead.

After the referendum in June the joint option became far more lucrative, valued at around £50 per share, prompting public investors to express their dismay with the deal.

AB InBev and SABMiller expect the tie-up to complete on 10 October if shareholders give the deal a green light.

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