NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Australian government gave SABMiller a late Thanksgiving gift Friday when it approved the beer giant's purchase of Australia's flagship brewer Fosters's Group for $11.2 billion.
After SABMiller increased its offer for Foster's Group in October to get the company to agree on a merger, in mid-November it cancelled an AUD30 cent merger dividend to shareholders and, instead, added the dividend to the takeover price, pushing the purchase price above $11 billion. SABMiller's second concession boosted its chances of approval by Australian regulators, leading regulatory cheers on Friday heard from Sydney to Milwaukee.
SABMiller -- the international beer conglomerate that owns U.S. beer favorite Miller Lite and European classics Grolsch and Peroni -- will pay A$5.40 a share in cash to buy Australia's Fosters. According to the company's website, the addition of Fosters will provide its first entry into Australia, the only continent where it doesn't have existing brands. With Fosters, SABMiller will command a near-50% beer market share down under according to Reuters calculations.
"SABMiller has agreed to a number of undertakings which recognize the significance of Foster's to our economy and to our community, and support Australian jobs," said Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan in a statement approving the merger.Previous to board and regulatory approval of the deal, Fosters management rejected SABMiller's first A$4.90 a share takeover attempt in June, saying, "The value (of the bid) was so far from reality, it wasn't worth engaging." SABMiller then took their offer to buy the company directly to shareholders in a hostile takeover attempt this summer. The twice increased purchase price now stands at A$5.40. SABMiller shareholders will vote on the merger on Dec. 1. For the largest beer deal of the year to be complete, 75% of shareholders will have to approve the merger. In a November statement, SABMiller said, "If approved by shareholders at the relevant scheme meetings later this year, SAB Miller continues to expect the acquisition to be completed before the end of 2011." In October, the Brazilian news agency IG reported that Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) is interested in buying SABMiller for as much as $80 billion according to anonymous sources. That merger would put InBev, the world's largest beer maker, together with SABMiller, the second largest.
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