By Andy Young
Anheuser-Busch InBev's initial bid to takeover fellow brewing giant SABMiller could come as early as this week, according to some media reports.
The UK's Sunday Times newspaper reported that a source had said the two companies had held "friendly" talks in recent days. The paper went on to say that discussions were continuing over the weekend and that a firm offer could come from AB InBev "within days". Officially AB InBev has been given until October 14 to either make an offer for SABMiller, or withdraw from a takeover.
Two weeks ago both sides confirmed that an approach for SABMiller had been made by AB InBev and that talks would be ongoing regarding a possible takeover. The pressure is now on SAB's chairman Jan du Plessis to make sure the company gets the best possible deal. It seems more likely now that SABMiller will accept a strong offer from AB InBev, especially as a number of key shareholders have indicated that they would back the move.
As reported in TheShout, major SABMiller shareholder Altria has already held private talks with AB InBev and has said it was "open to considering a proposal" depending on the terms.
The Sunday Times also reported that another significant SABMiller investor, South African fund manager Allan Gray, which has a £1bn stake in SAB, said it backed the deal. Allan Gray chairman Ian Liddle, told the newspaper: "I don’t see how engaging in any action to frustrate an offer being made to shareholders would be in the best interest of those shareholders."
In Australia, news of the takeover has generally not been received favourably. A poll on TheShout has asked the question, "Would an AB InBev takeover of SABMiller be good or bad for the brewing industry?" So far the results show that 55 per cent of voters saying the move would be "bad" with the rest evenly split between saying it would be "good" or that "it will not make a difference".