As far as grocery and retail goes there are really only two stories in town: the AB InBev / SABMiller takeover saga and the fallout from Tesco’s half-year results last week. The world’s two biggest brewers have the Wednesday “put up or shut up” deadline looming with the City holding its breath on whether AB InBev will sweeten its £68bn offer, which was rejected last week by SAB, or go hostile.
The fourth-largest shareholder in SAB is pushing for ABI to improve its offer, less than 72 hours ahead of the bid deadline imposed under Takeover Panel rules. A senior official at South Africa’s state-owned Public Investment Corporation said it wanted clarification of a proposed listing of a combined brewer on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (The Financial Times).
The Sunday Times said the Budweiser owner was ready for last-ditch charge at SAB with a better offer in a “desperate attempt” to agree a deal. It quotes sources close to AB InBev who said the brewer was likely to table an improved offer of £43-£44 a share before the 5pm bid deadline on Wednesday in the hope of winning over Colombian shareholder Santo Domingo. “The £65bn approach by AB InBev to SAB Miller was, most thought, on its way to a predictable outcome,” a comment piece in the paper added. “Shareholders saw the merits, SAB was a slightly sleepy company caught on the hop — there would be a tussle, but in the end it would agree a deal. How wrong we all were. It has turned into a real belter, with fascinating subplots and the outcome uncertain right up to the wire. The final acts will play out over the next three days.” A Sunday Times feature also reconstructs the behind –the-scenes negotiations between AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito and SAB chairman Jan du Plessis: “When the world’s two biggest beer makers met to discuss a megadeal, nobody expected the bar brawl that ensued.”
The Guardian takes a look at the three private shareholder groups worth more than $100bn (£65bn) between them that sit behind the two brewers: the Santo Domingo family, 3G Capital and a Belgian brewing dynasty. This morning The Times said ABI was under increasing pressure to sweeten its offer to force SAB to extend Wednesday’s “put up or shut up” bid deadline. However, a £43 or £44 offer would “still likely fall short of a price that would satisfy SABMiller”.
The Mail on Sunday reports more woes for Tesco after its profits collapsed last week. US funds are reportedly suing the supermarket over the profits scandal which erupted last year. A group of four American pension and investment funds (The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western & Southern Financial Group, Integrity Life Insurance and Touchstone Strategic Trust) filed a complaint in an Ohio court on Wednesday, the paper claimed. It centres on Tesco’s £263m accounting scandal which embroiled the retailer last September.
Weetabix accounts published at Companies House over the weekend showed sales at the cereal maker down 4% in 2014 to £352m with profits falling 7% to £109m as the rise of the discounters harmed suppliers as well as the supermarkets (The Telegraph).