Anheuser-Busch InBev sweetens its offer to buy SABMiller

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LONDON — Talk about being persistent!

The world’s biggest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has once again upped the offer to buy its chief rival SABMiller in an attempt to create a super brewery.

AB InBev is now offering £43.50 ($66.80) per share in cash to take over the maker of Miller Lite, Pilsner Urquell and Peroni brands. SABMiller has not commented on the latest offer.

The “Bud-Miller” would be the world’s largest beermaker by far, with nine of the world’s top 20 beers by volume, and annual sales of $55 billion.

So far, SABMiller has played hard to get. The brewer rejected three previous offers from AB InBev, at £38 ($58), £40 ($61) and £42.15 ($64.70) per share, saying they “very substantially undervalued” the company.

The company’s board voted unanimously against the first two bids, but its opinion on the £42.15 offer was split.

Board members representing SABMiller’s biggest shareholder voted to accept the offer, saying the combination of the two companies would create significant value for shareholders.

AB InBev then signaled it may be prepared to go hostile by appealing directly to SABMiller shareholders over the head of the company’s board.

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.

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

SABMiller shares climbed 1.7% after the announcement. AB InBev shares were up 0.2%.

By Ivana Kottasova

Alanna Petroff contributed to this article.

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