Posted September 2011
Germany – Salmon is it
The news rocked the earth. Schörghuber Group, Heineken’s joint
venture partner in Germany, is going to invest in salmon farming
in Chile. But what about the new Paulaner brewery project? No
further details. In an exclusive with Germany’s leading national
daily “Süddeutsche Zeitung” on 13 September 2011, the heiress to
the EUR 1.2 billion turnover Schörghuber Group, Alexandra
Schörghuber, only reiterated what has been common knowledge for
several months: that they will make a decision on whether to
build a new Paulaner brewery in Munich before the end of the
Australia - Shame on both houses
SABMiller may have become a bit of a laughing stock. On 8
September 2011 the Australian Takeovers Panel rejected its
application to investigate Foster's accounting policy, which
SABMiller considered "misleading and deceptive".
But likewise Foster's stubbornness in rejecting SABMiller's bid
as too low was further undermined when ACNielsen market figures
for the May -to-July quarter 2011 were released which showed
that Foster's share of the local packaged beer market has
Supermarket beer sales will overtake pub beer sales for first
It's a worry. The UK is drifting towards continental Europe. At
least when it comes to beer consumption patterns. British
drinkers are about to consume more beer at home than in pubs for
the first time ever. A report from Zolfo Cooper, a financial
advisory firm, which was released in August 2011, suggests that
the number of trips people were making to the pub has fallen 19
percent in the past year. It said drinkers now visit pubs an
average of 4.3 times a month – against 5.3 times a year ago.
Publicans are but the taxman's sidekicks
How naive of you to think that pubs are places to enjoy a beer.
They are the taxman's office away from the office and the
publicans his assistants. This message was driven home by Tim
Martin, who is Chairman of the 823-strong pub group JD
Wetherspoon which he founded in 1979.
Congo - Brewers hope to tap the dividend of political stability
It's good to know: should you plan to travel around the DR Congo
by truck (some reckless tourists seem to do just that), pick a
truck carrying bags of something soft like peanuts because
sitting on top of them can be quite comfortable. Beer trucks are
To international brewers the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),
formerly known as Zaire, is a country of immense potential. With
a land area spanning two-thirds of the European Union and a
widely dispersed population of an estimated 64 million or 66
million people, of which one-third live in urban centres, like
the capital Kinshasa, which itself is said to be home to about
10 million people, the DRC has been mostly known for its
extraordinary agricultural and mineral resources and for the
extravagances of its dictator Mobuto Sese Seko (1930-1997).
The country's two brewers, Heineken (Bralima) and Castel (Bracongo/Brasimba)
have had to show great perseverance over the past twenty years.
Although the country is potentially one of Africa’s richest
countries and one of the continent’s key engines for growth, it
has been ravaged by a conflict which began in 1996 and which
could be termed Africa's world war even though it sadly received
little sustained attention from the rest of the world.
The Congo war pitted government forces, supported by Angola,
Namibia and Zimbabwe, against rebels backed by Uganda and
Rwanda. Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional
government in 2003, people in the east of the country still
remain in terror of marauding militia and the army.
The DRC's beer production figures are indicative
of the country's tragedy of war and poverty. In 1989, beer
production was 3.1 million hl according to the Barth Report. It
dropped to 1.5 million hl in 1996 when the conflict started and
stood at 1.4 million hl in 2001.
While the country is largely at peace, the situation remains
fragile. The socio-economic conditions in the country are dire,
says the World Bank. The country’s infrastructure was largely
destroyed during the conflict. Despite progress over the past
five years in political and economic reforms, many communities
live in deteriorating conditions, with little access to markets
for purchasing supplies or for selling their produce, and poor
access to public services.
Nevertheless, market leader Heineken, with an estimated market
share of 65 percent, plans to invest EUR 400 million in its
local unit Bralima over the next five years, it was reported in
September 2011. Bralima operates 6 breweries across the country.
In recent years beer production in the DRC has risen steadily:
from 1.6 million hl in 2005 to 4.1 million hl in 2010 (Barth
Report) This had persuaded Heineken to build a brewery in
Lubumbashi in the DRC's southeastern corner near Zambia.
Lubumbashi is the DRC's second-largest city and its Katanga
province is a rich mining region, which supplies cobalt, copper,
tin, radium, uranium and diamonds. The brewery was opened in
2008 and has a capacity of several hundred thousand hl.
On 7 September 2011 Hans van Mameren, Bralima's Managing
Director, was quoted as saying that the DRC's outlook was
positive despite uncertainty hanging over the general elections
scheduled for 28 November 2011, as economic growth looked robust
and any boost to infrastructure would see new markets open
Bralima, which has been majority-owned by Heineken since 1986
(95 percent), has been operating in the DRC since 1923 and makes
the country's most popular beer, Primus.
Due to lack of infrastructure, Heineken's breweries mostly serve
local markets. If beer has to travel hundreds of kilometres by
road or river to reach its destination, that pushes up the price
to extremely high levels. A 0.75 litre bottle of Primus in
Kinshasa may sell at USD 1.50 but the further away the higher
Although DRC's business climate is fairly hostile and tax is as
high as 40 percent, Mr Mameren believes the nature of the
product protects Bralima from the worst excesses of corruption
and government hassle.
Ethiopia - Diageo wins auction for Meta Abo Brewery
Wors fail us when looking at the prices paid by
international brewers for Ethiopia's privatised breweries. Early
in September 2011 it was reported that
Diageo, the world’s major spirits company, submitted the highest
bid for Ethiopia’s state-owned Meta Abo Brewery.
Diageo is said to have offered USD 225 million for 100 percent
of Meta Abo. SABMiller with SouthWest Development (SWD) bid USD
190 million, while Heineken offered USD 188 million, local media
said, citing Ethiopia's Privatisation and Public Enterprise
Earlier this year, the privatisation agency had called off an
auction for a stake in Meta Abo, which it had put on the block
in a joint venture with the government.
Even then Diageo was said to
have submitted a staggering USD 200 million bid for the Meta Abo,
while Heineken came second with an offer of close to USD 100
Netherlands - Heineken feels "uncomfortable" with Kirin stake
Ah, the promiscuity of brewers: in bed with each other in one
place, in competition in another. What's wrong with having an
open relationship? If it suits the brewers, fine. Who are we to
Given that brewers have behaved like serial philanderers for so
long it still comes as a bit of a surprise that one brewer has
actually taken the moral high ground against such widespread
Heineken's half year results presentation on 23 August 2011 saw
a concerned-looking Heineken CEO complain to analysts about
Heineken's involuntary menage à trois with Kirin and Fraser &
In July 2010 Japan’s Kirin bought a 15 percent stake in F&N, the
largest beverage company in Singapore and Malaysia.
There is nothing untoward in that, except that F&N has a
long-standing joint venture with Heineken – Asia Pacific
Breweries (APB). APB has interests in more than 20 breweries in
13 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
Prior to the results presentation, in an "exclusive" with the
Financial Times, Heineken's CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer broke
his public silence for the first time and said that Heineken
felt uncomfortable with Kirin owning a stake in F&N because
Heineken and Kirin are competitors in a number of markets.
Mr van Boxmeer added that of course there were "control
mechanisms" in place like the Kirin representative on F&N's
board leaving the room when issues relating to APB were being
Mr van Boxmeer, shrewdly, would not be drawn on how to solve
this situation but the Financial Times found an analyst who
filled in the bits Mr van Boxmeer had left unsaid:
"Clearly what you have got here is a situation that cannot stay
forever", Ian Shackleton, drinks analyst with the Japanese bank
Funny he should say that. When earlier this year Belgian brewer
Duvel appointed Alain Beyens, CEO of the central European brewer
StarBev, to its board - a move we thought highly unusual at the
time because Duvel and StarBev are competitors in the Czech
Republic - bankers in London did not think the arrangement
unkosher at all, since Mr Beyens would leave the board room when
matters relating to the Czech Republic were discussed.
If the Duvel board members can be cavalier about trifling
matters such as competition, why can't F&N's board members?
What we find interesting is that Heineken views Kirin as a
competitor. That's news to us. Could that be the same Kirin that
brews Heineken in Japan? To press further, could that be the
same Kirin with whom Heineken may soon be obliged to set up a
joint venture in Brazil, if the two want to get anywhere with
their respective beer interests, minuscule in market share that
they are? In Brazil Kirin has a stake in Schincariol whereas
Heineken/Kaiser owns FEMSA.
Whatever Kirin is to Heineken - it isn't all that clear-cut.
Remember they are partners in Japan and Australia, but
competitors in New Zealand and Indonesia.
Heineken's dealings with Kirin change from market to market.
That's why it's a bit rich coming from Heineken that Kirin is
What we find even more interesting is to muse on the reasons for
Heineken telling us its side of the story. Is it perhaps to
cajole Kirin into committing itself to something more regular,
like a French-style "cinq à sept" (five to seven pm) affair?
Mr Shackleton certainly thinks this is where they
should take their relationship. He told the Financial Times that
there was also a possibility for the two to embrace a broader
But like any experienced relationship counsellor, Mr Shackleton
feels that Kirin may not be ready for a serious relationship.
"Are Kirin ready to work with a global partner rather than just
piecemeal in [certain] markets?" he asked.
Kronenbourg 1664: a French beer (*but not brewed in France)
Mon dieu. Why do these suits who run the Advertising Standards
Authority (ASA) have to be so darn literal? In a recent ruling
the ASA slapped Heineken UK on the wrist for saying (or rather
implying) in its advertising that Kronenbourg 1664 on sale in
the UK is brewed in France.
Mexico – Another spot of bother for Heineken
Seems like the FEMSA acquisition is already giving Heineken's
executives a headache. Just a few days after Heineken CEO
Jean-François van Boxmeer had to admit to analysts that FEMSA is
losing market share in Mexico, the man in charge of improving
FEMSA's domestic business, Michiel Herkemij, left the company to
join the coffee company Sara Lee. Coincidence or consequence?
When Heineken published its second quarter results on 23 August
2011, analysts were not amused. In the Americas Heineken
reported a 2.0 percent volume loss - after a volume growth of
5.8 percent in the first quarter of 2011. Bad enough. To make
matters worse, EBIT in the Americas was only EUR 294 million.
The analysts had hoped for EUR 350 million.
In Mexico, FEMSA grew volumes 0.8 percent, which was small
consolation as the overall market had grown between 4 percent
and 5 percent. This implies a market share loss of 2 percent to
Basically FEMSA’s share has hovered around 43 percent and Grupo
Modelo’s at around 56 percent since 1999. However, between 2009
and 2010 FEMSA's share has fallen to 41 percent while Grupo
Modelo’s (the brewer of Corona Extra) increased to 57 percent.
Small wonder analysts hinted ominously at "uncertainty on the
acquired FEMSA beer business".
Australia - SABMiller sends out its militia
The battle over Foster's is turning nasty or ludicrous now that
SABMiller has sent out its vanguard troups, made up of, you will
never guess: its bean-counters! The USD 10 billion battle for
control of Foster's heated up once more when SABMiller on 2
September 2011 lobbed a grenade into Foster's trenches, accusing
its takeover target of making "misleading and deceptive"
statements about its debt position and trading outlook when
reporting its annual results.
With the help of its bean-counters, SABMiller made the
accusations in an application to the Australian Takeover Panel
and asked that Foster's be forced to retract the statements.
Kenya - Kenyan men don't have a hobby
It's a big worry. Many Kenyans, especially Kenyan men, do not
have any hobbies. All they enjoy doing is going to bars to
drink. The African bloggosphere is full of complaints about male
folk vanishing in the morning and staggering home in the
evening, while leaving much of the work on the coffee farms to
women and children.
Well, no more.
In an effort to clamp down on men idling their days away in
bars, an alcohol law came into force in November 2010 which
prohibits the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks before 5
p.m. and after 11 p.m. during weekdays and before 2 p.m. during
Obviously, the law has bitten into EABL's beer volumes. That is
why the leading East African brewer is looking at selling more
beer in cans in a bid to boost home consumption and thus reverse
the drop in volumes in the Kenyan market.
Germany – Facebook party to mourn the demise of “party trains”
Russia can. And so can Hamburg. Clamp down on alcohol
consumption in public places, that is. Arguing that trains and
buses are not pubs on wheels, the city’s authorities have ruled
that as of 1 September 2011 drinking alcohol on public transport
will be illegal. As of 1 October 2011, fines of EUR 40 (USD 58)
will be issued to those found wandering around stations and bus
stops with as much as an open beer bottle.
A telephone poll among 1,200 Hamburg citizens last year revealed
that 86 percent are in favour of banning alcohol consumption on
Hamburg’s public trains and buses. They said they are fed up
with having to wade through beer spillages while being
intimidated by anti-social behaviour.
In response, several tens of thousands have joined a Facebook
party to come together for a “Hamburg public transport farewell
boozing” on 30 September 2011 between 8 pm and 11 pm.
How many will actually turn up for the biggest “booze in” in
Hamburg is anybody’s guess.
Still, the authorities fear they could face a situation as in
London in 2008, when on 30 September thousands drank themselves
silly on the Underground to demonstrate their opposition to a
ban on alcohol consumption coming into effect the following day.
London eye-witnesses reported that drunken partygoers began
fighting and vomiting, ripping up maps and adverts, spilling
alcohol and leaving debris. It took the authorities a few days
and immense cost to clean up the mess.
Unlike Russia, whose tough new anti-alcohol law, passed in July
2011, has also banned the sale of alcohol at kiosks and train
stations, the Hamburg ban ignores these outlets. Commuters will
still be able to buy beer and spirits at the station but they
must not consume alcohol while on board of trains and buses.
However, as in Russia, many seasoned Hamburg citizens wonder how
the ban will be enforced. Hamburg’s public transport authorities
said they have hired over 100 extra staff to police trains and
Come 30 September and we shall know how effective these measures
Diageo grows profits ahead of sales
After the poor half-year results from the brewers, Diageo’s
full-year figures, which it released on 25 August 2011, were a
relief to investors. Total sales in the year to June 2011 rose 2
percent to GBP 9.94 billion (EUR 11.2 billion/USD 16.3 billion),
with profits overall 5 percent higher at GBP 2.36 billion (EUR
2.7 billion/USD 3.9 billion).
Apparently, Scotch and vodka sales in emerging markets – led by
Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff – and good sales of top end brands
in more mature markets helped Diageo offset the problems in
Diageo’s European revenues fell 5 percent in the year which
triggered a 23 percent slump in profits in the region to GBP
621million (EUR 703 million/USD 1.0 billion). Sales in Spain and
Greece were especially weak due to the grim economic situation
in the two countries.
Sales of the Guinness stout declined 5 percent across the
continent, with volumes in core markets of the UK and Ireland
hit by economic conditions, it was reported.
Denmark - From Russia with trouble
Carlsberg’s dependency on the Russian market must be causing its
executives nightmares. After three years of beer consumption
declines, first caused by economic woes, then followed by a
steep tax hike and now a tough anti-alcohol law, Carlsberg’s top
brass has come to realize that a return to growth will only
happen after 2013. In the time frame of the financial markets,
this is the same as saying “never”, especially given the fact
that the worst bit of the law, which President Dmitry Medvedev
approved in July, will come into effect in 2013: the prohibition
of beer sales by kiosks.
Should investors have harboured an optimistic view of Russia and
Carlsberg, this view was dashed in August 2011 when Danish
brewer Carlsberg, the world’s number four brewer, had to admit
that its second quarter net profit declined 22 percent from the
same period a year ago.
Carlsberg, the owner of the Baltika brand, gets about 45 percent
of profit from the country, down from over 50 percent a few
Netherlands – Heineken received thumbs down after forecasting
flat 2011 profits
Which planet do investors live on that they expect brewers to
keep on growing bigger and ever more profitable while the world
economy is entering a dangerous new phase? Shares in Heineken
were sent spiralling down after Europe's top brewer warned that
demand for its beer in Europe and the U.S. will remain
"challenging" this year.
Bad enough that the brewer on 24 August 2011
revealed weaker-than-expected net profits of EUR 605million (USD
872 million) for the first half of the year.
What brought investors close to a nervous breakdown was that
Heineken said its full-year profit is unlikely to grow over last
So-called organic adjusted net income for
2011 will be “broadly in line” with last year, the
Amsterdam-based company reported.
Investors had better stop hand-wringing and moaning and listen
to CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer telling them what Heineken is
doing to combat the long-term consumption decline in Europe.
True, these efforts require investments and they will not bear
fruit in the short-term. But the alternative is clearly to
cost-cut yourself into extinction. And how clever is that?
Philippines – Government to appeal WTO ruling on alcohol tax
Seems like they want to buy time. Or why should the Philippine
government ask the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to revisit a
ruling that declared a tax levied on spirits from the European
Union and the United States in violation of the trade body's
rules? The Philippines government said in August that the ruling
was not binding until the appeal was taken into consideration
and processed by the WTO Appellate Body.
The government has 60 days (until mid-October 2011) to file an
appeal. Once filed, the Appellate Body is expected to take 90
days to come out with its findings and conclusions.
All in all, the Philippines’ drinks producers have until the end
of the year at most to prepare for the inevitable, a lowering of
taxes, which, they maintain, will threaten the very survival of
the distilled spirits manufacturing sector including allied and
–Micros’ joy, majors’ sorrow
Who’s more concerned about U.S. beer production having declined
about 2.3 million hl each year since 2008? Not the craft
brewers. While beer production dropped 1.1 percent in the first
six months of 2011, the small and independent craft brewers saw
dollar sales rise 15 percent and volume sales grow 14 percent to
an estimated 6 million hl (compared to 9 percent volume growth
in the first half of 2010). The U.S. now boasts 1,790
breweries—an increase of 165 breweries since June 2010.
Capacity expansion is the major issue with which many craft
brewers grapple. But few actually plan to do what Sierra Nevada
and New Belgium Brewery will do: build a new brewery.
USA - Fresh beer is better ...
A great gem of wisdom by Boston Beer, the maker of Samuel Adams.
“I want Sam Adams to be the freshest beer in town, whether
you’re in Boston or Quincy or Los Angeles or Seattle,” Jim Koch,
the founder of Boston Beer, boasted last November. While
consumers enjoying the benefits of Boston Beer’s “Freshest Beer
Programme” blew Jim a kiss, investors rolled their eyes.
Especially, when Boston Beer released its 2011 second quarter
earnings in August 2011. They were not bad, but they did not
meet analysts’ forecasts either. Several bankers have already
told their clients to sell their shares in Boston Beer because
they think its momentum is starting to flag.
Excuse me for asking: but wasn’t Boston Beer the toast of the
town only last year when its share price doubled to USD 100?
How come this fall from grace?
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