Long-serving AB InBev general counsel Chalmers leaves company as new legal chief takes reins

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) general counsel Sabine Chalmers has left the company after almost 13 years, following its multibillion-pound takeover of drinks rival SABMiller last year.

AB InBev, which is best known for brands including Budweiser, Corona, Beck’s and Stella Artois, has announced that John Blood, vice-president for corporate affairs and legal, took over as GC and company secretary on 1 August.

Blood, who will also succeed Chalmers on AB InBev’s executive board of management, has been at the company since joining from Diageo in 2009 as vice-president for legal, commercial and M&A. His most recent role saw him lead the legal and corporate affairs agenda for the US and Canada.

Chalmers is leaving AB InBev to pursue a variety of interests, including taking up a non-executive director role at beauty company Coty – where she will also serve on the audit and finance committee – as well as a board role at the Royal National Theatre. She also plans to teach law and MBA courses in London and the US, and establish a foundation to support female education in India.

Prior to the 2008 merger of InBev and Anheuser-Busch, Chalmers was chief legal officer at InBev for more than three years. She started her career at legacy Lovell White Durrant before moving in-house to Guinness in 1993, ahead of the 1997 merger with Grand Metropolitan which created Diageo.

At Diageo she rose through the ranks to become North America GC in 2002, before joining InBev in 2005, where she played a key role in some of the world’s largest-ever M&A deals.

As GC, Chalmers led the in-house team on the £79bn SABMiller takeover, a deal which was first announced in 2015 and completed in October last year. AB InBev worked with external counsel at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, which fielded a team led by London M&A partner Mark Rawlinson, London head of corporate Simon Marchant and antitrust partner John Davies.

Linklaters took the lead role for SABMiller, while Herbert Smith Freehills also picked up a role on the deal, advising BevCo, SABMiller’s second largest shareholder. Allen & Overy advised the banks, which funded a $75bn loan to AB InBev for the deal.

Former SABMiller GC John Davidson, who stepped down following the takeover, is now acting as an “independent consultant on on governance, corporate affairs and business issues”, according to his LinkedIn profile, which also notes that he has taken up a non-executive directorship at Irish whiskey distillery Sliabh Liag.