Fresh off reports late yesterday that Anheuser-Busch's board was poised to reject the Belgian-Brazilian beer behemoth's $46 billion unsolicited bid for the No. 1 U.S. brewer, InBev today responded by announcing it had filed a suit in Delaware seeking a "declarative ruling" that A-B shareholders can remove all 13 of A-B's directors "without cause."
"InBev's strong preference is to enter into a constructive dialogue with Anheuser-Busch to achieve a friendly combination that comprehensively addresses the interests of all constituents," the company said in a press release today. "At the same time, the company is also seeking a declaratory ruling in Delaware regarding alternative routes to progress the combination to ensure that Anheuser-Busch shareholders preserve their voice in the process."
In keeping with those earlier reports, A-B's board this afternoon formally rejected InBev's proposal. The company released a letter from CEO August Busch IV to InBev's CEO, Carlos Brito, that called InBev's offer "inadequate," saying it "substantially undervalues" A-B.
Mr. Busch said the company's current strategic plans woud wind up creating more shareholder value than InBev's proposal. The market seemed to disagree with that assessment, however, as A-B's shares, stagnant for much of the past decade, climbed significantly after news of InBev's offer leaked.
InBev's initial offer came in at a 35% premium to the shares' value at the time. InBev is clearly counting on a shareholder backlash in the event A-B attempts to walk away from the offer without an alternative plan to boost shareholder value comparably.
A phone call to an A-B spokeswoman was not immediately returned.