Most SABMiller votes said to back AB InBev takeover bid

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)

London - Most SABMiller [JSE:SAB] investors voting by proxy supported Anheuser-Busch InBev’s [JSE:ANB] R1.4bn takeover offer in advance of Wednesday’s shareholder meeting, an early indication that the deal will go forward, according to people familiar with the matter.

The vast majority of those shareholders voted in favour of the deal, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the tallies aren’t yet public. The bid requires assent from 75% of SABMiller shareholders, excluding its two biggest investors, who aren’t voting due to a court ruling.

Additional votes are expected during the meeting, including some from hedge funds that had lobbied against the deal, one of the people said. Most investors voted by proxy, the people said.

Representatives from AB InBev and SABMiller declined to comment. AB InBev shares rose as much as 2.6% in Brussels on Tuesday as investors positioned themselves ahead of the expected approval. Proxy votes were due on Monday at 09:00.

The structure of AB InBev’s bid divided SABMiller shareholders and prompted the Budweiser maker to raise its offer in July. The British brewer’s two biggest investors, tobacco maker Altria and Colombia’s Santo Domingo family, favoured the deal because of a tax-efficient structure designed for them.

Others such as Aberdeen Asset Management said they were uncomfortable with the composition of the bid, leading the UK High Court to rule that smaller shareholders should vote separately.

Proxy advisers Glass Lewis & Co and Institutional Shareholder Services have both recommended that SABMiller holders support the deal, the industry’s biggest ever.

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