Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller - Here's what's going to happen next - Editor's Viewpoint

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We finally have some numbers to play with in Anheuser-Busch InBev's tussle with SABMiller. Add in a deadline that is only days away, and we've got ourselves our own drinks industry cliffhanger going on.

Three weeks after stating its intentions, AB InBev went public earlier today with an offer of GBP42.15 per share to acquire SABMiller. The UK-headquartered brewer then issued its own statement, in which it said the approach - while long-expected - was opportunistic and under-valued. Following a board meeting this afternoon, SAB formally rejected the offer, which would have valued it at around US$103.5bn.

The ball is back in AB InBev's court now, and the company has three clear options: It can either walk away altogether, it can go above the board and appeal directly to SAB's shareholders, or it can engage with SAB's board with an improved offer.

I cannot see AB InBev stepping back from the path it has chosen - put simply, it's just not that kind of company.

That said, the likelihood of a hostile approach to the matter also seems unlikely. Much as Altria Group, SAB's largest individual shareholder with a 27% stake, has come out in favour of AB InBev's now-rejected offer, the Domingo family's BevCo unit, which holds around 14%, is clearly not satisfied with the amount on the table. Besides, the UK Takeover Panel has a put-up-or-shut-up deadline of 14 October in place - and that deadline can only be extended if the offeree company requests it.

That leaves option three as the most likely. My call on this? We'll see an announcement either at the end of this week or the very beginning of next where both sides trumpet a "win-win" set of circumstances, with SAB's board accepting a GBP43.75-per-share proposal from AB InBev.

After all, what's another $4bn to the biggest brewer in the world?

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