The ongoing tango between SABMiller and AB InBev and the fallout from Tesco’s first-half results continues to dominate the papers heading into the weekend.
The Daily Mail and Telegraph went for the same headline to report on the increasingly hostile nature of the takeover attempt: “AB InBev goes ‘hostile lite’ as it turns up the heat on £65bn takeover target SABMiller”. AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito accused SAB’s board of “frustrating” the bid process and letting the opportunity of creating the world’s biggest brewer “slip away”. The Times said the brewer had “poured scorn” on its rival over the £65bn rejection. Brito added the rejection of the new offer “lacks credibility” and he called on its shareholders in a meeting in London yesterday to force the issue (The Financial Times).
A separate article in the FT from Sao Paulo focuses on Jorge Paulo Lemann’s dream of “global dominance of the beer market”. The paper said the Brazilian billionaire investor behind 3G Capital, which was instrumental in forming AB InBev, has had a “career-long obsession” to build a beer behemoth. “He thinks very long term,” a former employee told the paper.
Following on from Tesco’s interim results on Wednesday, CEO Dave Lewis finally buying shares in the retailer (as reported by The Grocer) gains plenty of coverage today. The Daily Mail said the supermarket was “plunged into an embarrassing row over director share dealings”. The announcement that Lewis and four colleagues had purchased shares worth almost £450,000 came less than 24 hours after the chief executive said it was company policy for boardroom bosses to refrain from buying shares in the retailer. The rest of the media focused on the same angle, with The Telegraph noting that Lewis had taken a lot of flak Lewis for his lack of investment in the supermarket. Lewis has told reporters at the company’s half-year results presentation that the Tesco board had barred him from buying shares because he possessed too much inside information about the progress of asset sales and the Serious Fraud Office investigation (The Guardian). “We as a board took a decision that while those things were ongoing, we would exclude ourselves from being able to trade Tesco shares,” he said.
Rival big four grocer Asda also published its accounts to Companies House yesterday, as reported by The Grocer yesterday, revealing that while its rivals struggled with their bottom lines it made operating profits of more than £1bn. However, as The Telegraph points out, the decline in revenues was a warning of what was to come as CEO Andy Clarke presided over the worst quarter in the business’s history earlier this year.
The Times reveals that Asda is also in talks to take over a vast Tesco store which was built in Cambridgeshire but never occupied.
Finally, a special investigation by The Times reveals Coca-Cola has poured millions of pounds into British scientific research and healthy-eating initiatives to help it fight back in the ongoing war on sugar.