U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc (BUD.N) agreed to a $50 billion takeover by Belgium-based InBev NV (INTB.BR), a source familiar with the situation said on Sunday, creating the world's largest beer maker.
InBev, the maker of Stella Artois, and Budweiser-brewer Anheuser were not immediately available to comment.
The combined company will be called Anheuser-Busch InBev, said the source, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity. Anheuser will get seats on the new company's board, the source said, but it was not immediately clear how many.
The deal brings an amicable resolution to a month-long saga that was becoming increasingly hostile as the two companies sued each other and InBev set the stage to try to replace Anheuser's board of directors.
InBev had proposed its own slate of nominees for the board that included Adolphus Busch IV, an uncle of the current chief executive of Anheuser-Busch.
InBev lured Anheuser to the bargaining table last week by raising its offer to $70 per share from $65 per share, a 27 percent premium over Anheuser's record-high stock price in October 2002.
Shares of InBev and Anheuser surged on Friday as news of the higher offer and the negotiations emerged. Anheuser closed up 8.6 percent at $66.50, and InBev closed up more than 7 percent.
Sources had said that the two companies and their advisers had talked in New York over the weekend, working through details such as the name for the combined company, roles for Anheuser's executives and the structure of the board. The breakup fees if the deal collapses also were discussed over the weekend, the sources said.
InBev had tried to soothe some of Anheuser's concerns last month, saying it would keep Anheuser's St. Louis home as the headquarters for the North American region. Anheuser's main Budweiser beer would also become the new company's "flagship brand."
Last week, the director of the Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters asked to meet with InBev Chairman Peter Harf and InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito, according to a letter posted on the union's Web site http://www.budwatch.com.
Led by Chief Executive Carlos Brito, InBev is known for ruthless cost-cutting.
The union, which represents workers at all 12 of Anheuser's U.S. breweries, asked for the meeting to discuss the initial offer so it could "fulfill our responsibilities to advise and protect our members."
It was unclear if InBev and the union met.
A takeover of iconic U.S. company Anheuser has sparked an outcry from some politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Any deal with Anheuser is complicated by its relationship with Mexico's No. 1 brewer, Grupo Modelo (GMODELOC.MX), which makes Corona. Modelo, already 50 percent owned by Anheuser, has the right to choose its partner and therefore has a role in discussions of any acquisition of Anheuser-Busch. Modelo could not be reached for comment.
Analysts have said that Modelo is likely to embrace InBev's bid for Anheuser and hopes the Belgian brewer proves to be a more dynamic and innovative partner than the biggest U.S. brewer.
Anheuser also owns 27 percent of China's Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd (600600.SS).
While Anheuser controls nearly half the U.S. market with brands like Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob, InBev has strong positions in Western Europe and Latin America and is growing in Eastern Europe and Asia.
InBev, which was formed by the 2004 merger of Belgium's Interbrew with Brazil's AmBev, is based in Belgium and run by a mostly-Brazilian management team.
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