Distell shareholders give the green light for Heineken takeover

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Heineken intends to acquire Distell, the world's second-largest brewer
Heineken intends to acquire Distell, the world's second-largest brewer
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  • Heineken is making a R38.5 billion bid for Distell.
  • Some shareholders, including Ninety One, say the R180 per share offer is too low for the company.
  • Distell management’s unanimous view is that the "landmark transaction" is good for every party involved, including South Africa.

A majority of Distell’s shareholders have voted in favour of Heineken’s move to acquire the local liquor maker.

The approval follows Distell’s extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday, where shareholders cast their votes on resolutions related to the deal, such as the scheme of arrangement and the approval of the Distell Namibia transaction.

Each resolution received support from more than 94% of the shareholders.

The shareholders' approval brings the Dutch brewer one step closer to its R38.5 billion acquisition.

However, despite the move being supported by the majority, some shareholders have spoken out against it, with Ninety One saying, for instance, that the deal would result in Heineken "unceremoniously snaffling" Distell, that the R180 per share offer was too low for the company.

The question was posed by another shareholder, Chris Logan, chief investment officer of Opportune Investments on Tuesday.

"If we look at the deal, it is quite striking that one of your largest shareholders - Ninety One - has come out very publicly against the deal," said Logan.

He asked if Distell had looked at Ninety One’s views and if it had a response.

The Savanna maker’s CEO Richard Rushton said the company had engaged twice with Ninety One on its views. However, he said Distell management’s unanimous view, as well as that of the independent and full boards, was that the "landmark transaction" is good for every party involved, including South Africa.

He added that the offer had gone through "an extensive" negotiation and evaluation process, using proven methodologies.

"As a board [our view is that] the offer is reasonable and fair. So, that’s our position, they [Ninety One] have a different view, that’s their right as a shareholder, to express that view," said Rushton.

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