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FB Roundup: AB InBev, Volkswagen and Viacom

By Michael Finnigan

AB InBev clears China hurdle in SABMiller takeover deal

Family-controlled brewer AB InBev, which produces brands such as Stella Artois, Budweiser and Corona, cleared a major hurdle towards its takeover of SABMiller this week after receiving regulatory approval from China.

China's Ministry of Commerce said it had approved the acquisition on condition that AB InBev fulfilled its commitment to sell SABMiller's stake in Chinese beer joint venture CR Snow.

According to a statement from AB Inbev, the final step in the acquisition is now in the hands of the British company's board, which will cast its recommendations on a revised $100 billion bid proposed this week.

The takeover of SABMiller by AB InBev will create the world's largest brewer with an estimated market capitalisation of $275 billion.

South Korea bans almost all VW cars over emission scandal

South Korea has banned almost all sales of Volkswagen AG cars and handed down heavy fines as the German automaker continues to deal with the fallout from last year's emissions scandal.

The east Asian nation said Tuesday it would block sales of 80 VW models and fine the company ?17.8 billion ($16 million) because the carmaker fabricated documents related to emissions and noise-level tests.

While Korea is a small market for Volkswagen, controlled by the multi-generation Piech and Porsche families, it is not the only country to threaten legal action: this week the German state of Bavaria announced it is planning to sue for as much as €700,000 ($783,000).

Last year, Volkswagen lost €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) in what has been called its worst ever financial performance.

Viacom Q3 results strengthen Redstone case

Viacom, the media company at the centre of a legal battle between controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone and chief executive Philippe Dauman, has revealed a 27% drop in operating profit in the third quarter.

The poor performance of Viacom has caused yet more division between the Dauman and his boss, Sumner Redstone, who said the poor performance is reason enough for a leadership change.

“Viacom's overall performance continues to highlight the need for changes to leadership at the company,” National Amusements, the investment vehicle for the Redstone family, said in a statement.

“In recent years, the company's senior management has overseen a steep erosion of revenue growth, earnings, operating performance, financial capacity and shareholder returns.”

National Amusements, which holds nearly 80% of the voting shares in Viacom, also noted that the media company spent around $15 billion from 2011 through 2015 buying back stock at prices much higher than today.