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AB InBev to dominate top jobs after SABMiller deal

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LONDON (Reuters) – Anheuser Busch InBev managers will take all but one of 19 key positions following the brewer’s $100 billion-plus takeover of rival SABMiller, according to details of the transaction announced on Thursday.

The deal, sweetened last week to help make up for a drop in the British currency, has been approved by both companies’ boards but still needs to be voted on by shareholders, some of whom oppose the deal.

AB InBev is known for its cost-cutting and centralized control, which some analysts have said may be tough to impose on all corners of SAB’s business, with its joint ventures and equity stakes in markets such as Turkey and Africa.

AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser and Stella Artois, said the new company – which has yet to be named – would continue to be based in its home town of Leuven, Belgium, while its operations would be managed from New York.

SAB’s offices in Woking, outside of London, will be kept open for a transitional period, but its central London headquarters will be wound down. The bulk of SAB’s European businesses are being sold as part of the deal.

“It looks as if all the SAB group and regional HQs will be eventually phased out,” said Bernstein Research analysts.

The new company will be run by teams of “functional chiefs” and “zone presidents”, both reporting to AB InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito. All but one of those 19 positions will be held by current AB InBev executives.

There was no mention of roles for SABMiller’s CEO Alan Clark or finance chief Domenic De Lorenzo in the new company.

Of SAB’s 576 corporate roles in the UK, 523 are in Woking and 51 in London.

AB InBev said SAB’s general counsel John Davidson, human resources director Johann Nel and managing director for Africa Mark Bowman, had agreed to stay for a transition period of at least six months to help with “integration, talent retention and stakeholder management”.

The new company will be organised into nine geographical zones, with existing SABMiller hubs in Miami, Hong Kong and Beijing phased out within a few months after deal closes, which is expected in October.

AB InBev has agreed to sell SAB’s western European brands Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime, to Japan’s Asahi. It has also pledged to sell SAB’s Eastern European business, which includes the Pilsner Urquell brand, though a buyer has not been agreed.

SAB’s joint ventures in the United States and China will be taken over by their respective partners when the deal goes through.


(By Martinne Geller. Additional reporting by Mamidipudi Soumithri in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft and Mark Potter)


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AB InBev agrees concessions with South Africa over SAB deal

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Anheuser-Busch InBev will invest 1 billion rand ($69 million) to support small South African farmers as part of concessions agreed with the government to secure regulatory approval for its $100 billion-plus takeover of SABMiller, it said on Thursday.

The world’s biggest brewer said the concessions, which also include a five-year freeze on layoffs, were agreed with the South African Ministry of Economic Development.

“It is expected that the agreement on terms between government and the merger parties will expedite the merger proceedings before the South African competition authorities,” AB InBev said.

“The commitments made by the company are the most extensive merger-specific undertakings made to date in a large merger. In our view, they meet the requirements of the competition legislation,” Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said.

South African Competition Commission this week extended its scrutiny of the deal, saying it needed at another 15 days to complete its investigation. It has already extended the deadline four times.

South Africa has a history of taking its time over approving takeovers partly because competition authorities have a public interest mandate to safeguard jobs, in addition to an anti-trust mandate to protect competition.

In 2011, the regulator told U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores not to cut jobs for two years following its acquisition of South African retailer Massmart, delaying implementation of the $2.4 billion deal by at least two months.

The Commission investigates deals for any anti-trust issues and submits its views to the Competition Tribunal, which makes a final ruling on whether a deal should go ahead

Ab InBev has already told European regulators of its plan to sell SABMiller’s premium European brands to try to secure approval for its deal.

($1 = 14.5350 rand)


(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Jane Merriman)

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