SABMiller shareholders today backed the brewer's $100-billion-plus takeover by rival Anheuser-Busch InBev by a large majority, paving the way for one of the biggest corporate mergers in history. 

The £79 billion deal was comfortably passed by the SAB shareholders who voted. 

It had required approval from a majority in number of shareholders and by at least 75% in share value. For the latter, it secured 95.5% support. 

SABMiller's two largest shareholders, cigarette maker Altria Group and the Santo Domingo family of Colombia, who together control about 40% of the shares, had already pledged their support for the deal. 

The approval of SAB shareholders was widely expected, but not a given. 

Criticism of the takeover offer grew over the summer, after a steep fall in sterling following Britain's vote to leave the European Union made AB InBev's cash offer less appealing. 

Activist shareholders pressured SAB to seek a higher offer, prompting AB InBev to sweeten its bid in July. 

SAB backed the higher offer, though some prominent shareholders, including Aberdeen Asset Management, continued to oppose it. 

The takeover is expected to be completed on October 10, nearly a year after AB InBev first approached SABMiller about the acquisition. 

The deal had required a succession of sweetened bids to win over SAB and asset disposals to satisfy regulators around the world.

These included the sale of SABMiller's Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime brands to Japanese rival Asahi. 

The shares of the new company will begin trading on October 11 in Brussels, with secondary listings in Johannesburg and Mexico City and American Depositary Shares in New York. 

Soon after, the company is expected to kick off a sale process for SAB's central and eastern European brands, estimated to be worth up to €7 billion. 

Earlier, AB InBev's chief executive Carlos Brito, who will head the combined company, outlined the rationale for the deal - including the creation of the first global brewer with new fast-growing African and Latin American markets.

He also said that the name Anheuser-Busch InBev would remain. 

After selling off SAB's joint venture stakes in China and the US and its businesses across Europe, the combined company will have a 27% share of the global beer market, according to Euromonitor International, with large positions in markets of Africa and Latin America.

But competition in individual markets will remain relatively unchanged, since the two companies have very little geographic overlap. 

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, had offered SABMiller a $3 billion break-up fee, payable if regulators or its own shareholders failed to approve the takeover.