Now, the biggest merger in the brewery business can finally move forward after the Belgian brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AbInBev) recorded a landmark agreement with South Africa’s government over its $100 billion takeover of the country’s brewer, SABMiller. In 2015, the proposed merger generated a lot of conversation and activity surrounding protection for South African workers in the latter company, who were not ready to lose their jobs as a result of a merger between a foreign company and a homegrown company.
According to Reuters, Anheuser-Busch InBev will invest $69 million (1 billion rand) to support small time South African farmers as part of the concessions agreed with the government to secure regulatory approval for its takeover of SABMiller. Also, those South African SABMiller workers who had protested the move while pushing the government for fair consideration as regards the merger, now have cause to be happy. This is because AbInBev has decided that after the merger, there will be a five- year freeze on layoffs, this agreement was established with the country’s ministry of economic development.
In October 2015, members of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) expressed their displeasure at the merger, saying it wasn’t people-friendly. “We have learnt over the years that during these deals, monopoly capital places profits before decent work, avoids paying taxes and they go to war on workers, their rights, job security and workplace safety. They demand the right to dismiss workers, when it suits them and they are forever ready to exploit the tragedy of youth unemployment to pay even lower wages,” a statement made at the time.
All is now left in the hands of the Competition Commission (CompCom) South Africa, the body charged with the mandate to investigate, control and evaluate restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant positions and mergers in order to achieve equity and efficiency in the South African economy, to review the terms and decide the fate of the acquisition.
However, in the midst of all the deference and waiting, the SABMiller workers and the farmers are the beneficiaries of this global brewery merger. If the said amount of 1 billion rand is used to aid modernized farming, it will go a long way in improving the lives of farmers in South Africa, as a report from the ministry of agriculture and land affairs says, agricultural advancement is for the benefit of the general population. The agricultural sector employs 70 to 80 percent of the total labour force and contributes about 35 percent of the region’s GNP and 30 percent of its foreign earnings.