SABMiller rebuffed by Heineken family in £85bn merger approach


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The Independent Online

SABMiller, the world’s second-biggest brewer, was rebuffed in its attempt to buy Heineken after the brewer's family rejected its £85 billion merger approach.

The rebuff heightened the likelihood of SABMiller itself being taken over by the world’s No. 1 brewer, AB InBev, the Belgian giant formed from the $52 billion  (£32 billion) merger of Anheuser-Busch and InBev in 2009.

Analysts said SABMiller had looked at Heineken as a potential poison pill to deter any bid from AB InBev. RBC said such a deal would have made geographic sense and faced fewer competition problems than any other combination in the industry.

SABMiller shares jumped 5.4 per cent to a 16-month high of 3590p, while Heineken shares, which are still just over 50 per cent in family hands, rose by  85 cents to €60.28.

Heineken said: “The Heineken family has informed SABMiller, Heineken and Heineken Holding of its intention to preserve the heritage and identity of Heineken as an independent company.”

SABMiller declined to comment despite the leap in its share price.

Heineken already has a number of joint ventures with Guinness brewer Diageo. They are also the No. 1 and No. 2 beer sellers respectively in several large European countries like Belgium and Italy.

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There are few sensible alternatives for SABMiller if it is seeking a poison pill. Analysts said that Molson Coors, the Canadian/US brewer, could be  a target.