Grupo Modelo signs with Carlsberg in China

Grupo Modelo signs with Carlsberg in China

Grupo Modelo has ignored its corporate ties with Anheuser-Busch InBev to sign Carlsberg as its importer in China.

Modelo confirmed to analysts on a conference call that it has appointed Carlsberg as its importer and distributor in China. The deal marks a switch from Anheuser-Busch InBev, despite the Budweiser brewer's larger presence in the country.

A-B InBev owns a 50% non-controlling stake in Modelo, but the Mexico-based Corona Extra brewer has used distribution deals to exert its independence. In 2010, Modelo spurned A-B InBev for Molson Coors in the both the UK and Japan.

Speaking to analysts at the end of last week, Modelo's head of sales and marketing, Jose Pares, said of the move in China: "Carlsberg did a good proposal [and] offered us attractive business opportunities for our brand. We always take the decision on who offers the best for our portfolio."

It is not clear when the switch in China was agreed.

In 2006, Modelo signed an import deal in China with the then-independent Anheuser-Busch. InBev paid a brewing industry record of US$52bn to buy A-B in late 2008.