SABMiller Buoys Case for AB InBev Takeover as Africa Sales Gain

  • Africa, Latin America lead growth in quarterly revenue
  • Lager volume rises in third quarter, beating estimates

SABMiller Plc’s sales showed that not all European consumer-goods companies are being stunted by a slowdown in emerging markets, buoying the case for its takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV.

The London-based brewer, which accepted a $103 billion offer from AB InBev in November, reported quarterly revenue that beat estimates on growing demand in Africa and Latin America -- two regions where AB InBev Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito is seeking to grow sales of the company’s Budweiser and Stella Artois lagers.

Africa “performed well across the board,” according to SABMiller CEO Alan Clark, while Latin America was boosted by the addition of more premium brands and price increases in Colombia. The performance will help ease concern over weakening emerging-market growth, after companies from food maker Nestle SA to distiller Diageo Plc witnessed a slowdown over the past two years.

The strength of SABMiller’s volume growth in Africa “validates its acquisition by AB InBev,” Philip Gorham, an analyst at Morningstar, said in a note.

SABMiller shares rose 0.1 percent to 4,129 pence at 9:49 a.m. in London. Investors are mainly focused on the takeover by AB InBev, which is due to be completed in the second half of 2016, Nik Oliver, an analyst at UBS Group AG, said in a note. AB InBev plans to divest SAB’s Peroni and Grolsch brands in Europe, attracting the interest of companies such as Asahi Group Holdings Ltd.

Cost Reductions

So-called organic lager volume advanced 3 percent in the three months through December, the maker of Pilsner Urquell and Castle lagers said in a statement. Analysts expected a 1.1 percent gain, according to the median of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The measure excludes the effect of acquisitions and currency shifts.

Net producer revenue rose 7 percent. Analysts expected a 5.5 percent gain.

Revenue from sales in North America fell by 1 percent, reflecting the weaker performance of MillerCoors, SABMiller’s joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing. AB InBev plans to sell SABMiller’s 58 percent stake to Molson Coors for $12 billion as it seeks to gain takeover approval from the U.S. Justice Department.

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