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By Mike Caggeso
After two weeks of nail-biting speculation, InBev NV pulled the trigger on its takeover offer to Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. (BUD), putting up a $46.3 billion, or $65 per share, cash bid for the U.S. market leader.
As a sign of the times, InBev's Chief Executive Carlos Brito did it with style – appearing on an interview-style video on InBev's web site that directly addresses the fears of the legion of Anheuser workers and drinkers – jobs, foreign ownership, brand synergy.
"I think what's in important here is that Budweiser the beer will continue to be brewed in the same brewers – we don't have plans to close any brewers – by the same people according to the same recipe," Brito said.
The proposed merger, which appraises Anheuser at a 35% premium, is a combination of high performance and common sense, he said.
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"This company is going to be the world's leading brewer," Brito noted, calling the merger a natural step. "It's going to be among the top five consumer goods companies in the world."
InBev's line of beers includes Stella Artois, Beck's, Hoegarden and Brahma.
Anheuser is the maker of Budweiser, Busch and Michelob brands. It also owns a 50% share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading brewer, and a 27% share in China brewer Tsingtao, whose namesake beer brand is the country's best-selling premium beer.
News of the proposal sent shares of both companies up in morning trading today (Thursday). And that's a more elemental to the proposal than before now that the long-time Busch family-run brewer owns only 3.5% of the company's shares.
Anheuser-Busch said in a statement that its board of directorsand in the context of all relevant factors, including the company's long-term strategic plan.
"The board will pursue the course of action that is in the best interests of Anheuser-Busch's stockholders" and "expects to make its determination regarding InBev's proposal in due course."
Beverage Providers Stirring Global M&A
Yesterday, (Wednesday), Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. (MER) analysts said that Foster's Group Ltd. (OTC: FBRWY) – Australia's biggest beer and wine maker – may be a takeover target after it conducts a review of its wine business.
Earlier this week, Foster's cut its earnings forecast and announced a $730 million write-down of its wine unit, causing Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Trevor Louis O'Hoy to announce his resignation from his post.
Should Foster's put itself on the block, it would join Anheuser, InBev and other major global beverage providers that have been on the giving and receiving end of billion-dollar buyout offers.
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