European stocks higher eyeing possible mega-merger
London - AFP
The world's biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev raised Wednesday its offer for British rival SABMiller to 68 billion pounds (92 billion euros, $103 billion), or 42.15 pounds per share, only to be told it was still too low to achieve one of the largest ever corporate takeovers.
The deal sought by Belgian-Brazilian AB InBev would create a global "megabrewer" that would bring together internationally famous brands such as the iconic US beer Budweiser and Stella Artois with Grolsch and Foster's.
But the board of Britain's SABMiller, which has already rejected two previous bids from its rival "unanimously rejected" the third offer as "substantially" too low.
A combined new group would be worth around 220 billion euros ($250 billion), and analysts think a fresh fourth offer is likely.
Jeremy Cunnington at Euromonitor International said that "AB InBev's bid for SABMiller is the inevitable conclusion of over a decade of consolidation within the brewing industry."
"We should not be surprised to see a slightly raised offer over the next week," added Simon Davies of Canaccord Genuity in London in a note.
SABMiller shares in London closed up 0.30 percent at 3,633 pence, while AB InBev gained 0.60 percent to finish at 98.65 euros in Brussels after earlier pushing through the 100 euro barrier.
German shares rose despite the country's industrial output unexpectedly slumping in August, the economy ministry said Wednesday, as Europe's top export power feels the pinch of slowing growth in China and other emerging markets.
Frankfurt's DAX 30 closed up 0.68 percent to 9,970.40 points and the Paris CAC 40 climbed 0.14 percent to 4,667.34 points compared with Tuesday's close.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index finished up 0.16 percent to 6,336.35 points, in a market where rising heavyweight mining stocks were offset by declines in airline shares.
In foreign exchange, the euro fell to $1.1250 from $1.1271 late on Tuesday in New York.
- US stocks mixed -
Wall Street stocks were mixed on Wednesday as stronger oil prices lifted petroleum-linked shares while some company earnings disappointed.
Dow member ExxonMobil gained 0.27 percent near mid-day deals as US oil prices moved up toward $50 a barrel.
But Yum Brands, which owns the KFC and Taco Bell fast-food chains, sank 18.5 percent as it lowered its earnings forecast due to sluggish sales in China.
Near mid-day in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.24 percent higher at 16,830.58.
The broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.03 percent to 1,980.61,while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.10 percent to 4,743.56.
Back in Europe, Britain's biggest retailer, supermarket group Tesco, said it had fallen into a net loss during its first half, partly on costs linked to an accounting scandal.
Losses after tax stood at 365 million pounds in the six months to the end of August, compared with a net profit of 6.0 million pounds during the corresponding period a year earlier, Tesco said in an earnings statement.
"Tesco results ... highlighted the problems that the sector as well as the group have had over the past two years," said Graham Spooner, analyst at online trading firm The Share Centre.
"However, the retailer did beat analyst consensus expectations... in what is proving to be a challenging turnaround."
Tesco shares soared 2.52 percent to close at 197 pence, reversing early losses.
In Asia, stock markets were higher Wednesday, with Hong Kong closing up 3.13 percent and Sydney adding 0.59 percent.
Seoul advanced 0.76 percent by the close boosted by Samsung shares soaring 8.7 percent after it announced it expected to see an 80 percent jump in third-quarter operating profit.
Japanese stocks extended gains to a sixth session Wednesday, finishing up 0.75 percent after the Bank of Japan decided to hold fire on fresh stimulus measures despite sluggish growth and stagnant prices.