China conditionally approves AB Inbev-SABMiller merger: ministry

China conditionally approves AB Inbev-SABMiller merger

Beijing (AFP) - Chinese regulatory authorities conditionally approved brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev?s giant takeover of SABMiller Friday, clearing one of the last major hurdles for the $103 billion deal to go ahead.

The commerce ministry "decided to approve" the sale on condition that SABMiller's own stake in China's biggest brewery was disposed of, its anti-monopoly bureau said in a statement on its website -- a transaction which has already been agreed.

The takeover has previously been approved by regulators in the US, European Union and South Africa, where SABMiller has its origins.

AB InBev has agreed to a series of concessions to win the authorities' green lights, including selling SABMiller's 49 percent stake in Snow Breweries, China's biggest beermaker.

The anti-monopoly bureau said the sale -- to a unit of China Resources, SABMiller's local partner -- had to go through within 24 hours of the overall merger.

Otherwise, it said, the deal "would have the effect of eliminating and restricting competition, and ultimately would harm the interests of Chinese consumers".

AB InBev is already the world's top brewer and the SABMiller acquisition is in line to be the third largest in history if it goes through.

The Belgium-based brewer of Budweiser and Stella Artois this week raised its offer for SABMiller to £45 a share, after sterling slumped following Britain?s Brexit vote, cutting the value of the deal to global investors when measured in other currencies and triggering shareholder resistance.

The new offer values the London-headquartered firm at £79 billion ($104 billion), and the deal is expected to boost the unified firms' prospects in developing markets in Africa and China.