Anheuser-Busch InBev to Dominate Combined Brewer’s Leaders

  • Management board to include one executive from SABMiller
  • SABMiller offices in Miami, Hong Kong, Beijing to be shut

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV’s senior management team that will lead the company after its $103 billion takeover of SABMiller Plc is completed includes just one executive from the acquired brewer.

Carlos Brito

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

AB InBev will dominate the 17-person executive board, which contains one SABMiller manager -- South Africa managing director Mauricio Levya, who will run the Middle Americas region. AB InBev Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito will lead the combined entity, to be headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, with a so-called global functional management office in New York, the maker of Budweiser said in a statement. Mark Bowman, SABMiller’s longtime African chief, will remain for a transitional period of at least six months, AB InBev said.

The deal will give AB InBev its first foothold in Africa, a fast-growing region for beer sales that accounted for 31 percent of SABMiller’s revenue last year. Given the continent’s importance to the deal, the eventual departure of Bowman is a surprise, said Javier Gonzalez Lastra, an analyst at Berenberg.

“The most prominent name there is Bowman; people probably expected him to stay,” the analyst said by phone. “It’s difficult to speculate on the reasons from the outside. If he has aspirations to become CEO of another company and be more visible, maybe ABI is not the right place.”

Mark Bowman

Source: SABMiller

Game Plan

The absence of SABMiller executives among the new company’s leadership follows a game plan Brito has honed over dozens of deals, and one he adopted from 3G Capital, an investment vehicle created by the billionaire Brazilian investors who control AB InBev. The group, led by Brito’s mentor Jorge Paulo Lemann, has also acquired Burger King, Heinz and Kraft Foods. After InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, Brito slashed costs at the combined company by $1.1 billion in one year, and deemed executive departures “great, because we then promoted people and they said, ‘This is my company now.’ ”

This time around, the AB InBev executive under the spotlight is Ricardo Tadeu, a Brazilian with a degree from Harvard Law School who’s currently running the brewer’s Mexican operations. He’ll move to Africa and be responsible for spurring growth on a continent where about 65 million people are due to reach the legal drinking age by 2023. Tadeu will have to grapple with slower growth across the continent, in particular a weakening economy in the key market of South Africa, where SABMiller first set up shop in 1895.

Tumultuous Week

Jabu Mabuza, chairman of South African phone company Telkom SA and a former CEO of the Tsogo Sun hotel and casino business, which SABMiller once held a stake in, will chair the brewer’s new Africa board along with Brito, AB InBev said.

SABMiller’s board unanimously recommended AB InBev’s improved takeover offer Friday, paving the way for the biggest acquisition in the history of the beer industry and capping a tumultuous week in which the Budweiser maker bowed to pressure to sweeten its offer. SABMiller’s board faced the choice of backing a bid that Chairman Jan du Plessis said was at the “lower end” of what he deemed acceptable, or risk letting the industry-transforming combination fall apart. AB InBev expects to close the deal Oct. 10.

The new company, which will control about half of the industry’s global profits, will be divided into nine geographical zones and also retain a U.K. presence at SABMiller’s office in Woking, England, for a transitional period, it said. Existing SABMiller business hubs in Miami, Hong Kong and Beijing will be shuttered within a few months of the deal’s completion, AB InBev said.

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