June 1, 2016 / 12:17 PM / 2 years ago

Distell top investor awaits SABMiller response to stake sale demand

JOHANNESBURG, June 1 (Reuters) - Distell’s main shareholder Remgro said it would act in the best interests of its own shareholders and those of the South African drinks company in response to the enforced sale of fellow investor SABMiller’s stake.

South Africa’s Competition Commission made one of the conditions for Anheuser-Busch InBev’s acquisition of brewer SABMiller for more than $100 billion, that SABMiller must sell its 26.4 percent Distell holding, which is worth around $565 million based on its current market value.

Investment firm Remgro, which owns 52.8 percent of spirits, cider and wine maker Distell and has been named as a possible buyer of SABMiller’s holding in the past, said it would await SABMiller’s response to the ruling and “with due consideration to the rights they have, act in the best interest of Remgro, Capevin Holdings, Distell and their respective shareholders”.

Remgro did not specify in its Wednesday statement what rights it or Capevin Holdings had relating to Distell or any sale of SABMiller’s stake. The investment firm was not immediately available for comment.

Earlier Distell said the disposal of SABMiller’s stake would not adversely impact the way that it operates, because the London-based brewer is not involved in the board.

“SABMiller does not have any representation on the board of Distell and has never been involved in the management of Distell,” the company said in a statement.

Meanwhile, South African Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said Anheuser-Busch InBev’s merger with SABMiller was complicated, but would ultimately benefit the country.

“It is a complex transaction and very difficult at this stage to say definitively what the impact is. All that we can tell is that a priori, it is positive for South Africa,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference near Cape Town.

Conditions attached to the deal include a binding one that no South African employee be laid off because of the merger, the Competition Commission said on Tuesday.

It said it had recommended to the Competition Tribunal, which has the ultimate say, that the deal be “approved with conditions.” Its recommendations are usually upheld. (Reporting by Zimasa Mpemnyama and Wendell Roelf; Editing by James Macharia and Alexander Smith)

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