South African regulator approves megabrew giant AB InBev, SABMiller merger

by Nqobile Dludla 0

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Competition Tribunal granted conditional approval for the proposed merger of about $100 billion by brewer Anheuser-Busch Inbev and SABMiller, the anti-trust authority said on Thursday.

The Tribunal, which gives the final word on mergers in Africa’s most industrialised country, said in a statement that the conditions are designed to address both public interest and competition concerns arising from the merger.

After the green-light, AB InBev’s CEO Carlos Brito said in a statement that the brewer was on track to close the merger in the second half of 2016, adding that South Africa was “a market that would play a critical role in the combined company.”

The takeover will give the Belgium-based maker of Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois a third of the global beer market, selling twice as much as its nearest rival Heineken.

AB InBev shares were suspended before the announcement.

As part of the conditions, the Tribunal ruled that no South African employee be laid off for five years after the merger.

Other conditions to the tie-up include a requirement the merged entity sell off SAB’s stake in liquor maker Distell as well as investing 1 billion rand ($68 million) in South African agriculture and enterprise development.

The two key approvals required are by the United States and China, although the proposed disposals there are expected to lead to clearance. Australia and Europe have already given their blessing to the deal.

($1 = 14.7585 rand)

(Editing by James Macharia)