* ABI unit to pay $1 bln to Dominican group, $237 mln to Heineken
* AmBev to end up with 51 pct stake in brewer
* ABI shares up 1.6 pct, AmBev down 1.6 pct
By Martinne Geller and David Jones
April 16 (Reuters) - Anheuser Busch InBev’s Brazilian unit AmBev agreed to buy a controlling stake in the Dominican Republic-based brewer Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (CND) for over $1.2 billion, forming the biggest beverage company in the Caribbean.
The deal is the latest in a trend of consolidation in the global brewing industry. Earlier this month, Molson Coors Brewing Co said it planned to buy East European brewer StarBev for 2.65 billion euros ($3.5 billion) to expand its footprint in developing markets.
AB InBev said on Monday that AmBev is paying about $1 billon for a 41.76 percent stake in the maker of Presidente beer from majority shareholder E. Leon Jimenes, which itself owns 83.5 percent of CND, the largest brewer in the Dominican Republic.
The world’s biggest brewer, with brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois, said AmBev will also pay $237 million for the 9.3 percent stake in CND owned by Heineken.
AmBev and Leon Jimenes, the Dominican Republic’s biggest company, will form a partnership holding the Brazilian brewer’s Dominican operation, known as Ambev Dominicana, as well as the majority of CND.
The combined revenue of those businesses was about $570 million last year, AB InBev said, estimating that the first year of joint operations would generate operating profit of $190 million.
The company said those estimates led to an estimated enterprise value of 13 times EBITDA in the deal, which will create the top beverage company in the Caribbean region with businesses in beer, malt and soft drinks and operations in the Dominican Republic, Antigua, St Vincent and Dominica.
Combining the businesses in the Dominican Republic should present opportunities to cut costs and expand sales of Presidente beer into other markets, JPMorgan analyst Mike Gibbs said. Since AB InBev owns about 62 percent of AmBev, Gibbs estimated AB InBev’s ultimate ownership of CND at 31.6 percent.
“Given the relatively small size of the contribution ... the impact will be minimal in our view,” Gibbs said in a research note.
AB InBev said the deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012 and to add to earnings in the first year of operations.
Last month, Reuters reported that AB InBev and Heineken were in a race to buy CND.
Amsterdam-based Heineken, the world’s No. 3 brewer after AB InBev and SABMiller, has expanded in the Americas with its 2010 purchase of Mexican brewer FEMSA Cerveza. AB InBev already has extensive operations in North and South America and controls nearly 50 percent of the beer market in the United States and almost 70 percent of the market in Brazil.
AB InBev shares were up 1.6 percent at 55 euros in Brussels. AmBev shares were down 1.6 percent at 77.58 reals in Sao Paulo.
AmBev was advised by Deutsche Bank and Lazard, while Leon Jimenes was advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.