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Union wants members to share in SABMiller managers’ windfall

| Wine and liquor

The Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu) is hoping to secure the same sort of treatment for its members as the 1,700 SABMiller managers with share options are set to enjoy when the merger with Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) is finalised.

The top brass at SABMiller are set to score a $2.1bn windfall from the accelerated exercise of their outstanding share options once the deal is clinched.

The union’s general secretary, Katishi Masemola, wants Fawu members, who are participants in SABMiller’s broad-based black economic empowerment scheme SAB Zenzele, to enjoy the same accelerated treatment as management.

Mr Masemola will be meeting AB InBev executives this evening to try to persuade them to bring forward the maturity date and to launch a second broad-based black economic empowerment scheme.

AB InBev will be keen to avoid any delay before the Competition Tribunal, but will also want to avoid overpaying for regulatory clearance in SA.

At previous meetings, AB InBev offered to pay the five remaining years of dividends upfront, but Fawu rejected this as nothing more than a loan.

Mr Masemola said that despite the historic agreement reached between AB InBev and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel over public interest issues, there were two major issues relating to his members that he was keen to resolve before the tribunal. While he welcomed the commitment on job security, Mr Masemola said he wanted assurances there would be no deterioration in the conditions attached to those jobs.

The second issue relates to the accelerated maturity of the Zenzele scheme, which was launched in 2010, and is due to expire in 2020.

Zenzele holds 8.45% of SAB, which is SABMiller’s South African operation.

In his agreement with AB InBev, Mr Patel refers to the maintenance of the Zenzele scheme, "which provides opportunities for black South Africans (including employees) to participate as shareholders until the scheme expires in 2020".

The Zenzele scheme is considerably less generous than SABMiller’s executive share scheme, and it involves SAB shares, not SABMiller shares, which would make it difficult for Mr Masemola to argue Fawu members should be paid out on the grounds that all shareholders must be treated equally.

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