Anheuser-Busch InBev had until July this year to buy back Oriental Brewery

Anheuser-Busch InBev had until July this year to buy back Oriental Brewery

Anheuser-Busch InBev has confirmed its intention to buy back Oriental Brewery in South Korea.

The transaction, valued at US$5.8bn, follows the global brewer's divestment of the South Korean company to private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) and Affinity Equity in 2009 for $1.8bn. AB InBev said earlier today (20 January) that it will reacquire Oriental earlier than July 2014, the original deadline agreed between the two sides for A-B InBev to exercise its buyback option on the assets.

“The management team at Oriental has done a tremendous job of growing the business over the last few years into the leader it is today in South Korea,” said A-B InBev CEO Carlos Brito. “We look forward to working with the OB team to continue to build A-B InBev brands in South Korea, provide additional consumer choice and share best practices.”

A-B InBev initially sold off Oriental as part of its de-leveraging programme, introduced to help pay back a $7bn bridge loan taken out to help finance InBev's $52bn acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in 2008.

Oriental is the largest brewer in South Korea, owning the biggest-selling beer brand, Cass. The company estimates that its EBITDA in 2013 will come in at around $500m (at current exchange rates). Current CEO In-soo Chang will continue to lead the company, which will become part of A-B InBev's Asia Pacific Zone.

The sale is expected to close by the end of June.

To read A-B InBev's official statement, click here.