AB InBev CEO delays talk of hostile bid for SABMiller

Carlos Brito, chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev, presents the company's 2014 results during a news conference in Leuven February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

LONDON (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito does not want to talk about making a hostile bid for rival brewer SABMiller, saying he hopes shareholders will urge the board to engage concerning the existing offer.

“I don’t want to go there now. I think there’s too much to be gained in the next few days,” Brito told a conference call for analysts and investors.

SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewer, has promptly rejected an improved offer from AB InBev on Wednesday, saying the 68 billion-pound ($104 billion) offer “very substantially undervalues” it.

Brito looked to SABMiller shareholders for next steps, saying he hoped they would voice support for it, and urge the board to engage.

The offer includes a discounted “partial share alternative that was “designed with and for” SABMiller’s two largest shareholders, Altria Group and Bevco, controlled by the Santo Domingo family of Colombia. Altria has expressed support for the offer, but Brito said AB InBev currently does not have the support of Bevco.

“We hope to get support from the SAB shareholders including Bevco. An irrevocable from them is a precondition,” Brito said. “But we can always waive that at a later point and do something different.”

Reporting by Martinne Geller, editing by David Evans