‘Bud-Miller’ $104 billion merger is brewing again

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HONG KONG — The “Bud-Miller” beer merger just might happen after all.

Anheuser-Busch InBev — the world’s largest brewer — has submitted a revised proposal to take over SABMiller, its chief rival, in efforts to create a “super brewery.”

The new proposal would see AB InBev acquire SABMiller for £42.15 ($64.34) per share in cash, according to a stock exchange filing. That would value SABMiller at £68.2 billion ($104 billion), or 44% higher than SABMiller’s closing share price of £29.34 in mid-September, before takeover buzz began circulating.

AB InBev is clearly pulling out all the stops — two other initial proposals at £40 ($61.07) and £38 ($58) per share were rejected by SABMiller, according to the filing.

“AB InBev is disappointed that the board of SABMiller has rejected both of these prior approaches without any meaningful engagement,” the company said.

SABMiller, on the other hand, seems unimpressed with the third offer, saying in a statement that AB InBev “is very substantially undervaluing SABMiller.”

“AB InBev needs SABMiller but has made opportunistic and highly conditional proposals, elements of which have been deliberately designed to be unattractive to many of our shareholders,” said Jan du Plessis, chairman of SABMiller. “SABMiller is the crown jewel of the global brewing industry.”

The company confirmed its board would still meet to formally consider the proposal.

Shares of both firms shot up last month when SABMiller, owner of the Miller Lite, Peroni and Strongbow brands, announced that AB InBev was interested in making a bid.

If the deal goes through, it would be the biggest merger in brewing history, and could rank among the top 10 takeovers of all time, according to Dealogic and EY.

The combination would create a “super brewery” with nine of the world’s top 20 beers by volume, and annual sales of $55 billion.

As younger drinkers turn in ever greater numbers to independent breweries, the global market leaders have been trying to defend their market share.

AB InBev has swallowed Seattle’s Elysian Brewing, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing and Chicago-based Goose Island in the last year or two.

SAB Miller has also tapped into the craft beer scene, buying one of the UK’s most successful independents, London’s Meantime Brewing Company, in May.

SABMiller shares were up 3% in early London trading. Shares of AB InBev were up about 4%.

By Sophia Yan

— Ivana Kottasova contributed to this report