S AFRICA: Heineken wins back Amstel rights

By | 13 March 2007

Heineken has won back the rights to beer brand Amstel in South Africa from brewing rival SABMiller.

The Dutch brewing giant regained control of the brand after an arbitration panel ruled yesterday (12 March) that SABMiller should give up the rights to Amstel.

The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce backed Heineken's view that SABMiller's 2005 acquisition of Latin American brewer Bavaria had led to a "material change in ownership" of the London-listed brewer. As part of that deal, Bavaria's owners, the Santo Domingo family, had secured a 15.04% stake in SABMiller.

Heineken regains control of a brand that accounts for 8% of all beer sold in South Africa. Around 2.3m hectolitres of Amstel are sold in the country each year.

Brandhouse, a venture between Heineken, Diageo and Namibia Breweries, will import Amstel from Heineken's breweries in Europe and distribute Amstel in South Africa. However, Heineken is planning to build a brewery in the country.

Tom de Man, the head of Heineken's business in Africa and the Middle East said: "Regaining the Amstel brand is an important development for both the Heineken and Brandhouse businesses. It allows us to further strengthen the existing Brandhouse portfolio and it represents a significant step in building our business in this profitable beer market."

SABMiller chief executive Graham Mackay said he was "confident" his company would continue to offer "superior and differentiated brands" to South African consumers.

The brewer, which controls around 90% of South Africa's beer market, is drawing up plans to tap into its portfolio of global beer brands to rebuild its presence in the country's growing premium segment.

Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: Heineken, SABMiller, Bavaria, Diageo

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