China Okays Merger Of Former U.S. Beer Giants

Image courtesy of jayRaz

The final country that needed to weigh in on the mega-merger of beer giants SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev has given its blessing to the sudsy nuptials. This morning, Chinese regulators approved the deal, effectively clearing the road for the acquisition to move forward.

The decision by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce came as little surprise, given that SABMiller had already agreed to sell its 49% stake in CR Snow, China’s largest brewing company, in an effort to preempt any regulatory action.

READ MORE: How America’s Two Signature Beer Companies Became Expats

But the combined AB InBev/SABMiller would still have a significant position in China, with around 20% of the market share for the brands that would remain under the companies’ control.

SABMiller has sold off a number of brands around the world — including all of its U.S. holdings — to appease local regulators.

The only other issue that could slow down the race to integrate is AB InBev’s recently revised cash offer for SABMiller. In an effort to quell concerns about the recent decline of the British Pound, the Brazilian-Dutch colossus elected to boost its offer price for London-based SABMiller. Some are concerned that the increase isn’t sufficient to represent SABMiller’s true value.

Now that all international regulatory bodies have thumbs-upped the merger, the SABMiller board will likely move quickly to consider this revised offer. U.S. cigarette giant Altria — formerly Philip Morris — is one of the largest shareholders of SABMiller, and has signaled its approval of the increased AB InBev offer, however some other minority investors are reportedly more skeptical. If both Altria and the other major investor — the Santo Domingo family of Colombia — back the deal, SABMiller’s board may not have any choice but to move forward with the merger.