Heineken says it is investing 500 million euros a year in Africa

ABUJA Fri May 9, 2014 2:32pm EDT

A plastic container with empty bottles of Heineken beers are pictured among beer kegs outside a restaurant in Singapore August 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Chong

A plastic container with empty bottles of Heineken beers are pictured among beer kegs outside a restaurant in Singapore August 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Tim Chong

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ABUJA (Reuters) - Heineken (HEIN.AS) plans capital expenditure of 500 million euros ($690 million) a year in Africa over the next few years to maintain sales growth, a senior executive at the world's third largest brewer told Reuters on Friday.

The money will be used to upgrade production facilities and on training, said Siep Hiemstra, Heineken's president for Africa and Middle East. Africa accounts for one-fifth of Heineken's business and is growing fast, he said.

"We are strong believers in the growth of Africa, the economies of Africa, the consumer base, the middle class. We continue to invest heavily .... We continuously invest about 500 million euros annually and try to be ahead of the growth curve," said Hiemstra.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum being held in the capital of Nigeria, Africa's biggest economy.

Nigeria has annual beer sales of around 18 million hectolitres, second only to South Africa on the continent. Heineken has around a 70 percent market share in Nigeria, with Diageo's (DGE.L) Guinness (GUINNES.LG) accounting for over 20 percent.

Heineken had 56 plants in 20 African countries, and Hiemstra said it was weighing acquisitions.

Heineken said on Friday that it would merge its majority owned Nigerian subsidiary Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB.LG) with its rival Consolidated Breweries, which it recently acquired.

($1 = 0.7269 Euros)

(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Kevin Liffey)

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