AB InBev thirsty for growth in Asia, but Africa less promising -CEO

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 11 Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:44pm EDT

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 11 (Reuters) - Anheuser-Busch InBev SA , the world's largest brewer, sees great growth opportunities in Asia but prospects are lukewarm in Africa, Chief Executive Carlos Brito said on Friday.

The maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona has a strong foothold in the fast-growing Asian market, while African demand is concentrated in a handful of countries dominated by local brewers, Brito, a Brazilian, said at an event in Rio.

"Our culture is focused on Latin America and Asia. Given the growth opportunities, it's not worth opening another front," he said. "Of 55 (African) countries, five or six make up 80 percent of the market. There are Muslim countries as well, where we can't sell anything."

Brito said AB InBev has businesses with great potential in Vietnam, India, Hong Kong, Japan and Australia. The brewer has 40 plants employing 35,000 workers in China, where it is already among the country's five largest, and the only major player without a government interest.

In Brazil, where AB InBev controls No. 1 brewer Ambev SA , Brito said the market still has plenty of room to grow, but the country needs more stable rules to encourage investments. The government announced a tax hike on beverages in April before suspending the measure for three months on inflation concerns. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Brad Haynes; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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