InBev stands by $46B offer for Anheuser-Busch

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Brewer InBev SA on Wednesday pressed Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for an answer on its $46 billion takeover offer, saying it had already secured financing for the deal.

The Belgium-based maker of Stella Artois said it wrote to Anheuser again on Wednesday to assure the company's board that it has struck deals with a group of banks and has already paid commitment fees to finance the takeover over.

Anheuser has not formally responded to InBev since it first made an offer for $65 per share on June 11.

InBev says it has paid $50 million in commitment fees to a lending group that includes Banco Santander, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Barclays Capital, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Fortis, ING Bank, JP Morgan, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Royal Bank of Scotland.

InBev Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito made another plea for the support of Anheuser's board for an agreed takeover but stressed time was running out.

"This firm proposal is subject only to the negotiation of mutually satisfactory definitive agreements," he said. "We are committed to entering into a constructive dialogue with you to achieve a friendly combination."

But Brito warned that "time is of the essence."

InBev made no move to raise the offer, insisting that market reaction to its bid "has been extremely positive" and the offer would give shareholders an immediate cash premium of 35 percent above the 30-day average share price prior to recent market speculation.

The $65 offer for each share is also 18 percent above Anheuser's previous all-time share price high in October 2002, it said.

A number of politicians and other groups have come out against the deal, saying it may create a near-monopoly in the U.S. beer market and there are fears of American job losses.

Anheuser-Busch spokeswoman Maureen Roth declined comment on the letter.

Brito repeated in the letter that InBev would not shut any U.S. breweries and would help sell Budweiser beer globally. St. Louis would remain the company's North American headquarters and "global home of the flagship Budweiser brand," he said.

Anheuser management would be retained at all senior levels and Anheuser board members would be invited to join the board of the new combined company.

Together the two businesses would form "one of the world's five largest consumer-goods companies," he said.

The beer industry has been consolidating in recent years amid costs for transport fuel and key ingredients and slowing demand in wealthy markets in Europe and the United States. InBev has partly bucked that trend by expanding in Latin America, eastern Europe and Asia.

InBev itself is a product of a major takeover when Brazil's AmBev took over Belgium's Interbrew in 2004. Both Brito and the company's CFO came from AmBev, bringing with them a tight control on finances that has upped InBev's profits.

Anheuser-Busch shares rose 70 cents to $61.83 Wednesday. InBev fell about 1 percent to 46.30.


On the Net:

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.: http://www.anheuser-busch.com

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