AB InBev, SABMiller merger nears completion as China gives its conditional approval

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (AB InBev) $103.4bn acquisition of its smaller rival, SABMiller, dubbed the mega-merger, appeared close to becoming a reality on Friday as China’s Ministry of Commerce gave its conditional approval to the deal. China had been the last major regulatory hurdle for the brewer to overcome.

Chinese antitrust authorities said on Friday they have approved the merger, conditional on the sale of SABMiller’s 49% stake in CR Snow to its joint-venture partner, China Resources Beer (Holdings) Co Ltd.

China Resources Beer (Holdings) Co Ltd,  agreed in March to buy SABMiller’s stake in CR-Snow for $1.6bn.

China’s Ministry of Commerce said that SABMiller had pledged to support Anheuser-Bush InBev in the sale of the Chinese venture.

Meanwhile, SABMiller’s shareholders, on Thursday appeared to be signaling they were ready to accept the £45 per share sweetened offer Anheuser-Busch InBev made on Tuesday. The brewer had also increased the amount of cash for shareholders who choose a cash-and-stock alternative (partial-share alternative) to 88 pence.

SABMiller’s board will meet to vote on whether to accept the new offer and recommend the deal, people familiar with the process said on Thursday.

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