600 jobs set for axe after brewer mega-merger

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Takeover: the brewers have agreed a date of October 10 for the £79bn deal to go through
Takeover: the brewers have agreed a date of October 10 for the £79bn deal to go through

Related tags: Ab inbev, Beer

Fears are growing for the future of nearly 600 jobs at SABMiller after brewing giant AB InBev confirmed its takeover of the brewer would “significantly impact” its existing UK locations.

Under the deal, SABMiller’s office in Woking, Surrey, would remain open for a transitional period, while its central London site would close.

SABMiller employs 523 people at Woking, and a further 51 in London.

The development came after the brewing giants agreed a date of October 10 for the £79bn takeover deal to go through.

The deal, equivalent to £45 per share, will create a new company responsible for almost one-third of the global beer output.

A spokeswoman for AB InBev said: “SABMiller's existing UK locations will be significantly impacted after the combination completes.

‘Legal considerations’

“Any changes affecting employees in the UK would be implemented with due respect for applicable legal considerations and consultation requirements.”

AB InBev confirmed that the new combined group would be headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and its global management team based in New York.

The company will be run by 19 senior executives who will report to AB InBev ceo Carlos Brito. All but one were existing AB InBev employees, with current SABMiller md Mauricio Leyva the sole survivor. SABMiller ceo Alan Clark doesn’t appear in the list.

Both brewers have had to overcome a set of regulatory hurdles to complete the deal.

The European Commission made clearance conditional on AB InBev selling SABMiller’s entire beer business in Europe. It was concerned that the removal of competition would lead to higher beer prices in EU Member States where SABMiller is currently active.

Asahi acquisition

Japanese brewer Asahi is to acquire SABMiller’s Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime beers for 300bn yen (£2.2bn). Other brands in the SABMiller stable include Pilsner Urquell and Miller Genuine Draft. Outside of Europe, it owns the Foster’s brand.

AB InBev owns more than 200 beer brands including Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Leffe and Hoegaarden.

SABMiller executives had called a stop to the takeover​ over concerns that the previous offer of £71bn had been devalued too much by the double-digital fall of sterling, as a consequence of the UK’s Brexit-vote.

The new offer, an increase of £1 per share, was accepted by the SABMiller board on July 26.

SABMiller will ask its shareholders to vote in favour of the UK Scheme at the UK Scheme Directions Hearing on August 22.

However, according to reports, shareholder Aberdeen Asset Management said it would vote against the deal. It claimed the company was still undervalued and it was uncomfortable with the structure.

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