LONDON & LEUVEN, Belgium — As expected, beer brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev submitted its first formal bid to purchase chief rival SABMiller this week, and just as quickly, SABMiller rejected it, saying the offer—the third following two more-casual bids—“still very substantially undervalues SABMiller, its unique and unmatched footprint, and its standalone prospects.”
“Today we announce a proposal to combine with SABMiller to build the first truly global beer company,” AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito said in announcing the offer early Wednesday morning. “We believe this transaction would be in the best interests of both the companies’ consumers, shareholders, employees, wholesalers, business partners, and the communities which they serve.”
AB InBev started the conversation with a “private proposal” of £38 ($58.16 U.S.) per share to SABMiller’s board of directors on Sept. 17 and revised the bid to £40 ($61.22 U.S.) a week later. This week’s formal offer was for £42.15 ($64.51 U.S.) per share in cash, valuing the company at £68.24 billion ($104 billion U.S.) and creating the fourth-largest consumer product company in the world with nest sales of $65 billion.
The board of SABMiller met formally Wednesday to consider the new proposal and unanimously rejected it based on the undervaluing the company.
AB InBev has not commented since SABMiller announced the rejection. Based on British law, AB InBev has until Wednesday, Oct. 14, to make the deal happen or request an extension.
During a conference call with analysts to announce the bid, Brito made it clear the greatest benefit of acquiring SABMiller would be gaining access to the African beer market.
“AB InBev has no mature presence in Africa, while SABMiller has a strong operating history and presence. SABMiller also has good positions in Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Australia,” Brito said. “Conversely, AB InBev has strong presence in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and parts of Western Europe, such as the U.K., Spain, France, Germany and Belgium.
“We believe Africa, in particular, will be a critical driver of future growth for the combined company. SABMiller has a history in the region dating back to the 19th century, and we intend to retain a strong focus there going forward.”
Brito was not able to answer questions about how regulatory laws in various countries, particularly the United States, might affect beer-brand ownership and current marketing partnerships should a deal go through.
“We’ve done a lot of homework to get to this point. We’ve been thinking about this a long time,” he said. “In the U.S. and China in particular, we would strive to resolve any regulatory requirements promptly.”
In the weeks since the news of the acquisition effort broke, analysist have said any bid at or above £45 (or about $68 per share U.S.), would overvalue SABMiller.
The ball’s in AB InBev’s court.