Anheuser-Busch InBev sells Tsingtao stake to Asahi

Posted by Isobel Drake on 27th January 2009

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has advised that it has entered into an agreement with Asahi Breweries to sell part of its stake in Tsingtao Brewery Co. for US$667 million.

The divestiture of this stake in Tsingtao is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s ongoing deleveraging program, generating proceeds that will be used to repay debt incurred as a result of the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch.

As a result of the transaction, Asahi will become Tsingtao’s second largest shareholder, with a 19.9% stake acquired from A-B InBev. Tsingtao Brewery Group will remain the largest shareholder in Tsingtao, holding a 31% stake as of January 23, 2009. Anheuser-Busch InBev will retain a minority share of approximately 7% and reported they have no plans to sell any additional shares.

“Anheuser-Busch InBev remains strongly committed to China, the largest beer market in the world,” Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said. “Our operations in Northeast and Southeast China are a key platform for our global growth strategy going forward. With strong local brands such as Harbin and Sedrin and global brands such as Budweiser, we are well positioned to benefit from the significant potential in this important market.”

The deal is subject only to customary approvals under Chinese and Hong Kong law and the parties expect the transaction to be completed before the end of the first quarter of 2009.