Legal Business Blogs

SABMiller legal chief Davidson to stand down as mega beer merger finalises

Brewing giant SABMiller’s general counsel (GC) John Davidson will stand down in six months’ time following a post-acquisition review by new parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev).

In 2015 SABMiller became the focus of a takeover approach from AB InBev on a deal that has created a $275bn company. Today (4 August) the company revealed its new internal structure and leadership team and said: ‘We are pleased to confirm that John Davidson…will remain with the combined group for a transitional period of at least six months following completion to assist with the critical tasks of integration, talent retention and stakeholder management.’

New York-based AB InBev legal head Sabine Chalmers, however, will assume the position of chief legal and corporate affairs officer in the newly-merged business.

Davidson (pictured) joined FTSE 100 company SABMiller – owner of brands such as Peroni, Foster’s and The Miller Brewing Company – as GC in 2006, but had been working almost exclusively with the business for the last two years of his career as an international corporate finance partner at Lovells.

Featured in the 2015 Legal Business GC Powerlist, the SABMiller legal team typically focuses on M&A, banking and treasury work under Davidson’s remit, liaising with the company’s internal corporate finance team, and reviewing acquisitions. The remainder work on SABMiller’s larger supplier contracts, IT contracts, global and internal policy on issues such as alcohol, marketing, labelling, commercial communications, and supervising the group’s global anti-bribery and corruption compliance.

Hogan Lovells is SABMiller’s major corporate advisory firm in the UK, especially for banking and securities mandates, while it also uses Linklaters, Allen & Overy and Herbert Smith Freehills.

The newly combined group will be headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and will have its global functional management office in New York.

Following the completion of the deal, SABMiller’s UK offices in Woking will be kept open for people working on integration and business continuity ‘for a transitional period.’ Existing SABMiller hubs in Miami, Hong Kong and Beijing will be phased out within a few months after completion of the combination.

Changes related to the structure and leadership of the combined group are conditional on completion of the union is expected to be finalised in October.

Other in-house teams to undergo post-acquisition restructuring include Royal Dutch Shell which finalised its £47bn takeover of BG Group during the first quarter of this year. Legal Business revealed in March Shell and BG began an overhaul of their respective legal divisions, while Shell also reviewed its external roster.

For more on John Davidson, see Client profile: SABMiller

For more on ABInBev, see: Client profile: ABInBev Anna Tolley