One of the few UK-listed companies issuing numbers this week was European Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC, which has had a tumultuous recent run. Its shares - down more than 27% over the past 12 months - tumbled to 1,153p after it posted a sharp fall in fourth-quarter profits.
Meanwhile AB InBev’s apparent interest in SABMiller took another twist this week, with Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital linked to a £75bn swoop for the UK listed brewer.
SABMiller’s shares jumped 2.5% on Monday on the rumours, suggesting analysts were less than convinced it would lead to anything concrete. That’s probably because any 3G Capital offer would be an AB InBev bid in slightly different clothing, given the investment firm’s existing 21% stake in AB InBev. So an approach from 3G Capital would run into the same regulatory problems a mega-merger with AB InBev would throw up - including the need to shed brands in the US, China, India and Russia.
“We do not see the financial logic in a potential ABI-SABM combination,” shrugged JP Morgan Cazenove analysts, while Nomura said: “The Brazilians historically have been value investors, buying under-managed assets cheaply and running them better. SABMiller does not appear to fit this criteria.” Nonetheless, SABMiller trading picked up as the week went on, 3.5% higher on Thursday than where it started the week.
The potential acquisition of FTSE 250 drinks can manufacturer Rexam, on the other hand, has been resolved more speedily. Agreeing to revised terms on Thursday morning, the sweetened offer will see US rival Ball stump up £4.4bn in a 628p-a-share deal. The improved valuation represents a 40% premium on Rexam’s share price before Ball’s interest was made public in early February. Shares leapt another 4.7% in early trading to 562p. Analysts were in little doubt it was the right call, with Jefferies noting: “With Ball’s offer of 628p above our valuation of 598p and recommended by Rexam, debate about whether there was any fight left in Rexam is settled.”