InBev prepares hostile bid as Anheuser shareholders file lawsuits

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 4th July 2008

InBev has announced that it is still committed to its proposal to create the world’s leading beer company through the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch. The proposal, which was put to Anheuser last month, would create the world’s largest brewer, eclipsing SABMiller.

Anheuser-Busch, famous for their ownership of Budweiser, rejected the offer last week as their Board considered that the valuation of $46 billion was too low.

Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of InBev, remains steadfast in his belief that the deal is fair and reasonable. “Our firm proposal of $65 per share reflects the full and fair value of the company. The proposal is backed by fully committed financing, and provides immediate certainty of value in a weakened stock market environment. Our firm proposal was rejected in favor of a newly formulated management plan with significant execution risks,” he said. “In addition to guaranteeing immediate value for Anheuser-Busch shareholders, our proposal is predicated on an established track record of international expansion and consistent growth in profitability. This combination would create a stronger, more competitive global company with an unrivaled worldwide brand portfolio and distribution network, as well as unmatched economies of scale in a period of rapidly escalating commodity prices. It would provide unparalleled opportunities for consumers, employees, wholesalers, business partners and communities.”

InBev, the second largest brewer and owner of the Stella Artois brand among others, claims they are still seeking to enter a friendly combination but suggested they will “pursue all available avenues that would allow Anheuser-Busch shareholders a direct voice in the process”.

Last week, InBev filed suit in Delaware to confirm that Anheuser-Busch shareholders have the ability under Delaware law to remove, without cause, all thirteen members of the Anheuser-Busch Board. Under Anheuser-Busch’s charter and Delaware law it is clear that the eight directors elected after 2006, who together constitute a majority of the Anheuser-Busch Board, are subject to removal and replacement without cause through the written consent procedure. The purpose of the filing is merely to confirm InBev’s strong belief that the five directors elected in 2006 may also be removed and replaced through that same mechanism.

A number of frustrated Anheuser shareholders have already launched legal action against Anheuser-Busch, with about a dozen similar lawsuits currently filed in the company’s home town of St. Louis in relation to the possible takeover.