* Ambev says to keep selling products through Regional
* Move reflects surging costs, sales drop in Venezuela
RIO DE JANEIRO/SAO PAULO, March 21 Cia de
Bebidas das Americas SA, Latin America's largest brewer, plans
to limit its exit of the Venezuelan market to the closure of a
plant and will market its products in the Andean country through
a local partner.
The company, known as Ambev, plans to sell some
of its brands through Cerveceria Regional, with which it
announced a strategic alliance in 2010, according to an emailed
statement on Thursday. Ambev is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA
, the world's biggest brewer.
Ambev on Wednesday began on Monday the closure of a brewery
in the Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto following a prolonged
slide in sales. Ambev's share of Venezuela's market over seven
years dropped to less than 1 percent from 9 percent, preventing
it from carrying out necessary investments in its facilities.
"Ambev wants to clarify that it is not stopping work in
Venezuela," the statement said.
Apart from battling with local giant Empresas Polar SA for
dominance of the thriving Venezuelan beer market, Ambev - which
also is Brazil's largest company - had to deal with a surge in
inflation, currency controls and rising political uncertainty in
the socialist nation.
Shares of the São Paulo-based company shed 0.4 percent to
85.24 reais on Thursday. The stock has gained 18 percent in the
past 12 months.