Cheers! High court rules SABMiller shareholder vote over Megabrew can be split

 
Billy Bambrough
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That calls for a drink! (Source: Getty)

Megabrew is still fizzing along. 

The High Court has ruled that SABMiller shareholders can be treated as two classes when they vote on the takeover by Anheuser Busch InBev – dubbed Megabrew.

SAB requested the split as the £79bn deal requires 75 percent approval by SAB shareholders – with the largest two stakeholders controlling 40 per cent of the shares.

Read more: EU antitrust regulators wave through Megabrew

Smaller investors will now 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 vote will take place on 28 September. 

Altria Group and Bevco have both signalled their support of the tie-up. 

A split would effectively raise the hurdle, since each class would have to approve the terms by three-quarters.

Another large shareholder in SABMiller, Aberdeen Asset Management, said it was pleased by the ruling and still plans to reject the deal.

A statement issued by Aberdeen read:

We are pleased the court has acknowledged the reality of the situation which will help to ensure that the views of the rest of the investor base have due weight. 

As we have already indicated, we intend to vote against the deal as we are uncomfortable with the structure and believe it undervalues the company.

Yesterday the High Court postponed making a decision.

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.

Read more: Megabrew cleared by Chinese authorities

"We are pleased the court has acknowledged the reality of the situation which will help to ensure that the views of the rest of the investor base have due weight," shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management said today.

"As we have already indicated, we intend to vote against the deal as we are uncomfortable with the structure and believe it undervalues the company. We would welcome other investors who value good corporate governance and recognise the superior long-term value from continuing to hold SABMiller as a standalone entity voting in a similar fashion."

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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