Interbrew's measures come in reaction to a continued buy up of shares by Russian-based investment company Alfa-Eco, which is part of the Alfa Group. Over the course of the last few weeks the company has been steadily building up a stock of voting shares, that last week stood at 15 per cent. Any shareholder in the company only needs a 10 per cent stake in the voting shares in order to be able call an executive board meeting.
Alfa-Eco has already said that it wishes to accumulate a blocking stake in Sun Interbrew in an effort to play an active role in the company's executive board. Now that ambition appears to be one step closer to being a reality, Interbrew is making efforts to maintain its grip on the executive board.
In response Interbrew and Sun announced that, as part of the Shareholders Agreement relating to Sun Interbrew, they will allow each other to make additional share purchases of the voting shares of Sun Interbrew up to a combined level of 75.5 per cent. Sun and Interbrew also agreed to certain provisions aimed at ensuring the balance of control is not affected by further purchases of voting shares.
"Sun and Interbrew have said that they are willing to buy shares now," an Interbrew spokesperson told CEE-FoodIndustry.com. "Before this agreement companies could only buy up 68.8 per cent of the voting shares, now that agreement has expired and the companies have agreed to increase the stake to 75.5 per cent. This gives out the clear message that they are also now in a position to buy shares."
The spokesperson added that Interbrew was prepared to buy back voting shares at the standard market rate.
Before the move had been made to increase the agreed size of Interbrew and Sun's stake in voting shares, analysts had already speculated that Alfa-Eco's stake would not give them enough board room power to make any impact. Following this latest move it is likely that, as analysts had predicted, the Alfa-Eco's voting share stake will prove to be more significant for its investment potential, rather than being a valuable tool to influence company decisions.