African expansion: AB InBev plans additional breweries in Mozambique, Nigeria

By Loni Prinsloo

(Bloomberg) – Anheuser-Busch InBev NV is readying new African operations as the world’s largest brewer continues its expansion on the continent after the blockbuster takeover of SABMiller.

AB InBev intends to open its first brewery in Mozambique in the second half of next year after starting production in Nigeria later this month, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Brito told reporters in Johannesburg late Tuesday. The Leuven, Belgium-based company has also agreed to build a $100 million brewery in Tanzania, and is in discussions about tax policy in the East African country, he said.

Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), poses for photographer prior to a news conference in Leuven in this file photo. REUTERS/Eric Vidal/Files

The world’s largest brewers including AB-InBev and rival Heineken NV are investing in Africa is to take advantage of rising beer consumption in the world’s least developed continent. Jorge Paulo Lemann, one of AB InBev’s billionaire shareholders, said last year the continent’s rapid urbanisation and warm climate could eventually see it overtake the US in beer sales.

“We are very excited about building in Africa,” Brito said after meeting investors and analysts in the South African commercial capital. “Where others see risk we see opportunity.”

AB InBev cited Africa as a significant factor in the decision to buy Johannesburg-listed SABMiller in a deal that created the world’s largest brewer. The company has sought to expand the availability of signature brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois, while retaining a commitment to SAB’s best sellers such as Castle Lite lager.

The new Nigerian brewery will see the firm become the second-largest producer in Africa’s most popular country, behind Heineken’s Nigerian Breweries Plc. In Mozambique, the planned brewery will have capacity of 2 million hectolitres.

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