US: A-B rejects InBev offer, InBev readies hostile move?

By | 27 June 2008

Anheuser-Busch has rejected InBev's takeover offer, with the Belgian brewer also setting the scene for a possible hostile takeover move.

The US company said yesterday (26 June) that it has written to InBev's CEO, Carlos Brito, claiming that InBev's offer of US$65 per share is "financially inadequate" and "not in the best interests" of A-B's shareholders. A-B's board was unanimous in its rejection of the bid, which values the brewer at $46.3bn.

"InBev's proposal significantly undervalues the unique assets and prospects of A-B," said board chairman Patrick Stokes. "The proposed price does not reflect the strength of A-B global, iconic brands Bud Light and Budweiser, the top two selling beer brands in the world, with Budweiser selling in more than 80 countries today.

"The proposal also undervalues the earnings growth actions that the company had already planned, which have significant potential for shareholder value creation; the company's market position in the US, the most-profitable beer market in the world; and the high value of its existing strategic investments."

A-B also said that it has introduced a growth plan, dubbed 'Blue Ocean', which will deliver more than $750m in savings next year and $1bn in savings by 2010.

In rejecting the bid, however, A-B said its board will "continue to consider any strategic alternative that would be in the best interests of A-B shareholders". In the letter to Brito, A-B's CEO, August Busch IV said: "The board is open to consider any proposal that would provide full and certain value to A-B shareholders."

The rejection followed a warning yesterday from InBev that it has filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court to see if A-B shareholders could remove - without cause - A-B's board of directors. "Under the charter of A-B and as a matter of Delaware law, it is clear that the eight directors elected after 2006 are subject to removal without cause through the written consent procedure," InBev said. "The filing seeks to confirm that, as InBev strongly believes, the directors elected in 2006 are also now subject to removal through that same mechanism."

Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: InBev, Anheuser-Busch

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