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AB InBev explores $1.2bn sale of German beer brands

Discussions are ongoing and there’s no certainty that AB InBev will decide to proceed with a sale of the German brands, according to the people. 
Image: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is exploring a sale of some of its German beer brands as it focuses on growth away from the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage, according to people familiar with the matter.

The portfolio of regional brands could be valued at about 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion), the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. The world’s largest brewer is working with an adviser as it explores options, they said.

Discussions are ongoing and there’s no certainty that AB InBev will decide to proceed with a sale of the German brands, according to the people.

“We continuously assess our options to optimise our business and drive growth,” a spokesperson for Belgium-based AB InBev said in an emailed statement.

AB InBev employs more than 2 000 people in Germany, where it brews beers including Franziskaner Weissbier, Hasseroeder and Spaten. Its brewery in Bremen, where it makes the iconic Beck’s brand, is the largest in the country.

Many of the brands were inherited from Interbrew, which merged with Brazilian beermaker Ambev in 2004 to form InBev — the company that later combined with Anheuser-Busch. While Germany is Europe’s largest brewer, producing about a quarter of beers originating from the continent, it exports less of the drink than both the Netherlands and Belgium, according to European Commission figures.

Beyond beer

AB InBev completed its $100 billion-plus takeover of British brewer SABMiller Plc five years ago — a deal that left the company deeply in debt and highly exposed to a beverage category that’s losing out to spirits and wine in developed countries. Its shares are down almost 60% since the deal closed.

Under new Chief Executive Officer Michel Doukeris, who took charge in July, AB InBev is now looking beyond beer for future growth. A 25-year company veteran, he’s eyeing opportunities in products such as hard seltzers and canned cocktails. Mining insights from AB InBev’s data analytics tools and delivery apps will also guide the company’s investments into new labels or future delivery ventures, Doukeris said in an interview in July.

His strategy builds on his predecessor Carlos Brito’s initiatives to diversify, while keeping its brewing operations fresh, as with the rollout of the popular low-calorie Michelob Ultra lager.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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