Is Anheuser-Busch InBev still keen to swoop for SABMiller?

Is Anheuser-Busch InBev still keen to swoop for SABMiller?

It's all too much to happen on one day for this to be a coincidence, surely? Is SABMiller showing a bit of leg to Anheuser-Busch InBev while simultaneously whispering “higher, higher” in its suitor's ear? That's what two developments today suggest.

This morning, SABMiller released a trading update for the six months to the end of September. The first thing to note here is that this update was initially due to be announced on 15 October… one day after the deadline, installed thanks to the City Code on Takeovers & Mergers, for AB InBev to make its SAB intentions clear.

When I asked the company why it had brought forward the announcement, a spokesperson said: “This was for transparency's sake and to make all our shareholders aware of our trading.”

As it transpires, then, trading looks healthy: A 4% lift in net sales in the six months to the end of September was driven by a 6% sales rise in Q2. And this, following a 3% increase in Q1.

So, SAB is sitting pretty right now, performance-wise.

Then, later in the day, Bloomberg claimed that the company has turned down an “informal takeover offer” from AB InBev of GBP40 per share. Citing the fabled “people familiar with the matter”, the report claims SAB is hanging on for nearer GBP45 per share, which would value it at around GBP73bn (US$110.88bn).

The clock is ticking – although the two brewers could combine to request an extension. But, be aware that, much as we are in the eye of the storm on an AB InBev purchase of SAB, all this chatter will be serving as a distraction for the pair, irrespective of their “business as usual” protestations.

And, while neither will comment on the speculation over value, today has left us all in no doubt that SAB believes it is worth more than AB InBev presently thinks.