AB InBev beer deal faces Fawu appeal at tribunal

Bottles of beer and cider produced by Belgian-Brazilian group Anheuser-Busch InBev, and British-South African brewer SABMiller. (AFP)
Bottles of beer and cider produced by Belgian-Brazilian group Anheuser-Busch InBev, and British-South African brewer SABMiller. (AFP)

Johannesburg - The Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) plans to appeal against a decision to clear Anheuser-Busch InBev’s takeover of fellow brewer SABMiller [JSE:SAB] next week, citing concerns that participants in an employee share-programme aren’t being fairly compensated.

Fawu believes the programme should be wound up and participants paid the same as SABMiller shareholders stand to make from the $106bn acquisition, general secretary Katishi Masemola said by phone on Friday.

“We’re going to the tribunal to argue our case,” Masemola said. “If the tribunal doesn’t take our argument seriously, we will appeal to the Competition Appeal Court.”

READ: Fawu talks tough over SABMiller’s BEE scheme

The takeover was cleared by South Africa’s Competition Commission after AB InBev agreed to sell SABMiller’s R9bn stake in wine and spirits maker Distell [JSE:DST], protect jobs and set up a R1bn fund to support the local beer industry.

The union appealed to the commission, which recommended the deal to the Competition Tribunal on Wednesday, without addressing the labor group’s argument, Masemola said. An initial hearing is scheduled for June 7.

The objection could delay the completion of the AB InBev’s combination with SABMiller, which would create the world’s largest brewer. The Leuven, Belgium-based maker of Stella Artois and Budweiser has been seeking regulatory approval around the world for the acquisition, and is poised to gain approval from the US Justice Department, people familiar with the matter said this week.

A key date in the process is August 12, when London-based SABMiller is scheduled to pay its dividend. AB InBev will receive the payout if the deal is completed by then.

Fawu asked AB InBev for a one-time payout of R1.5bn in the Zenzele employee share-programme, as part of its negotiations, Masemola said. The brewer “has not responded to our proposal positively,” he said.

The union is prepared to take its case as far as the Constitutional Court, Masemola said.

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