Renewed AB InBev Bid for SABMiller Ups Stake in Beer Battle

BRUSSELS (AP) -

On Wednesday, Budweiser’s Belgian-Brazilian owner, Anheuser-Busch InBev, sweetened its offer for SABMiller to more than 68 billion pounds ($104 billion), but the reply remained as bitter as the rejection of the two previous proposals, as the owners of two of the world’s most famous beers continue to haggle over the terms of a merger.

“AB InBev is very substantially undervaluing SABMiller,” said SABMiller chairman Jan du Plessis.

There was no outright rejection of a merger, so AB InBev could find a more genial response if it raises its offer further.

Were an agreement to eventually emerge, the combined company would have 31 percent of the global beer market, dwarfing the next-biggest player, Heineken, which has 9 percent of the market. In addition to bringing together the classic U.S. favorites, the merger would see AB InBev’s Stella Artois and SABMiller’s Grolsch in the same stable.

And it would allow AB InBev to venture out more into the African and Australian markets, where its might is yet to be felt as it is in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

If a deal were reached, the sheer size of the combined company is expected to push antitrust regulators to require the sale of some brands. That could include Miller in the United States.

AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito said the combined company “would build the first truly global beer company.”

Earlier, AB InBev increased its cash offer to 42.15 pounds ($64.35) per share. SABMiller quickly shot down the proposal, noting that it was only 15 pence higher than an informal 42-pound offer rejected by the board on Monday.

“AB InBev needs SABMiller but has made opportunistic and highly conditional proposals, elements of which have been deliberately designed to be unattractive to many of our shareholders,” du Plessis, said in a statement.