Brewing industry giant Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev has announced its takeover of London brewing company SABMiller. The merger, which is valued at a whopping €79 billion, is set to take place on October 10th of this year. While this merger is no doubt an excellent business move for AB Inbev, employees of SABMiller are fearful of what the merger will mean for them.
SABMiller currently employs 523 people in Woking, and another 51 in London. Under the deal, SABMiller’s office in Woking will remain open for a transitional period, but the London office will be closed immediately. The Woking office will be shut down once the merger is complete, laying off all existing employees of SABMiller. A spokeswoman for AB InBev does not deny the great impact that this merger will have on current employees of SabMiller – she states that “SABMiller’s existing UK locations will be significantly impacted after the combination completes”.
AB InBev confirmed that the headquarters for this new combined group will be found in Leuven, Belgium, while its global management team will be based in New York. The company will be managed by 19 senior executives who will report to Carlos Brito, AB InBev CEO. All but one of these executives are current employees of AB InBev – Mauricio Leyva, the sole survivor of this merger (current employee of SABMiller), will be joining this team of executives shortly. It is interesting to note that SABMiller CEO Alan Clark does not appear on this board of executives!
This merger was not easily acquired – both companies had to jump over several legal hurdles to make it happen. The concern was that removal of competition (SABMiller) would lead to higher beer prices in EU Member States. Clearance was given for SABMiller’s entire company to be sold to AB InBev under strict conditions, overseen by The European Commission.
AB InBev is not the only company benefiting from this merger. Asahi, a well-known Japanese brewer, is to aquire SABMiller’s Peroni, Grolsch, and Meantime beers for 300 billion yen (€2.2 billion). AB InBev currently owns more than 200 beer brands including Corona, Budweiser, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Leffe and Hoegaarden. Under this merger, they will also acquire SABMiller staples such as Pilsner Urquell, Miller Genuine Draft, and (outside of Europe) the Foster’s brand.
SABMiller executives formally accepted the terms (which had to be rewritten after the damaged caused by the Brexit vote) of the merger on July 26th. SABMiller will be asking their shareholders to vote in favor of the merger at the UK Scheme Directions hearing on August 22nd – shareholders will be offered €45 per share. SABMiller is in high hopes that the rest of this merger will be completed smoothly, but reports of uncertainty have been brewing (see what I did there?) among the shareholders. One shareholder states that they will vote against the merger, claiming that SABMiller is still being undervalued and that the structure of this new deal is not strong.