By Ian Neubauer
“The Anheuser-Busch board carefully and thoroughly examined all aspects of your proposal with the assistance of independent advisers,” said A-B president, August Busch IV, in a letter to InBev CEO, Carlos Brito.
“The board unanimously concluded your proposal is inadequate and not in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch shareholders.”
A-B chairman, Patrick Stokes, added that InBev’s proposal, which represents a premium of 35 per cent over the unaffected price of A-B shares, undervalued the company’s assets and earnings growth potential, as well as its market leading position in the US — the most profitable beer market in the world.
The rejection has set the scene for a hostile takeover, with InBev launching a court bid to seek the removal of A-B’s board of directors.
“InBev’s strong preference is to enter into a constructive dialogue with Anheuser-Busch to achieve a friendly combination that comprehensively addresses the interests of all constituents,” InBev said in a statement.
“At the same time, the company is also seeking a declaratory ruling in [the US state of] Delaware regarding alternative routes to progress the combination to ensure that Anheuser-Busch shareholders preserve their voices in the process.”
Columbia University professor of corporate law, John Coffee, told The Financial Times InBev’s move was highly unusual, characterising it as “an initial opening tactic” by the brewer’s legal team.
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