The SABMiller acquisition shows how African companies can make it big on the global stage

“I’ll drink to that.”
“I’ll drink to that.”
Image: Reuters/Mike Hutchings
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The world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), unveiled its $107 billion final offer to acquire the world’s second largest brewer, SABMiller.

The historic deal would see AB InBev pay $66.70 per share for SABMiller, making the new holding company a global mega-brewer controlling over 30% of the world’s beer.

Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev, said the acquisition would help AB InBev become “the world’s first truly global brewer.” While it may be currently controlling 20.8% of the world’s beer in 2014, Ab InBev has been missing a foothold in emerging markets, particularly on the African continent, where South African-born SABMiller has a presence in 38 countries.

Talk of the historic deal—which was initially rejected by SABMiller’s shareholders early last month—has not only cast the light on what creating a world mega-brewer would mean but also offers a lesson in how homegrown African companies can make it big globally.

SABMiller is by all accounts a blueprint for a successful South African-bred company. The company was founded off the back of South Africa’s 19th century gold rush, which saw ambitious prospectors rummage Johannesburg in search for gold.

Today, SABMiller—which has a secondary listing on Africa’s largest stock exchange, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)—is the second largest company on the JSE by market capitalization. Amidst fears of a delisting, today’s announcement confirms that the company would continue to be listed (pdf, pg. 76) on the JSE, albeit only after the proper restructuring takes place.