BRUSSELS, April 24 Anheuser-Busch InBev
, the world's largest beer maker, plans to join rivals
with a push into Vietnam at the end of next year, constructing a
brewery to tap the large and fast-growing Asia market.
Vietnam, with a population of some 90 million, is seen as
one of the most attractive markets in the region for brewers,
with beer sales seen growing by about 10 percent per year on
average for 2010-2020.
"We think our global brands have a big appeal, especially
Budweiser... so we think it's a natural place to go after our
position in China," AB InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito told
reporters after the company's annual shareholder meeting.
"It's a brewery that we'll build in Vietnam. We already have
the land licence," he added.
Rivals Carlsberg, Heineken and
SABMiller all have operations in Vietnam, either
directly or through joint ventures.
Brito also expressed his delight that AB InBev was nearing
the end of its planned full takeover of Mexico's Grupo Modelo
after the settlement of its dispute with the U.S. Justice
AB InBev plans to realise $1 billion of synergy gains over
four years and also sees huge potential in the Corona brand from
its $20.1 billion purchase of the half of Modelo it does not
Brito said the company had succeeded with its international
expansion of Budweiser, since InBev bought Anheuser-Busch in
2008. Now launched in China, Brazil and Russia, international
sales rose 6 percent last year from no growth in 2008.
"If you project that same approach to Corona, not the
numbers,... it makes us very excited about moving with this
The Modelo deal is expected to be sealed in about four to
six weeks time, with a variety of transactions in Mexico, such
as the merger of two subsidiaries, needing to take place before
a mandatory offer was launched.
Corona is already the leading import beer in 38 countries
and the fourth most valuable beer brand worldwide. However, it
is currently sold by a variety of different importers and
distributors around the world.
Brito said that AB InBev would respect existing contracts,
but also look to see whether it might be better to sell Corona
itself in a given country.
"We will see what's there and depending on the geography to
see if the brand is best served within our system or with the
current distributor or with another distributor," he said.