SABMiller is still looking for a foothold in Brazil

SABMiller is still looking for a foothold in Brazil

SABMiller has not given up hope on restoring its presence in Brazil's beer market, despite losing out in the race to buy Schincariol, and the closure of its import business last year.

In 2011, SABMiller backed out of the bidding process for Brazil's second largest brewer, Schincariol, after Kirin Holdings offered BRL3.95bn (US$2.5bn) for the company. Since then, SABMiller has closed its import sales office in the country, as tough exchange rates and aggressive local taxation proved too much.

Speaking at yesterday's (25 March) quarterly divisional seminar in London, the president of SABMiller LatAm, Karl Lippert, said that the brewer has very limited presence in Brazil. “If you do not produce locally,” he said, “then imports are very expensive. Import taxes are higher, logistical costs are higher and it's a very complex market to get into.

“For the moment,” he added, “we are at a standstill in the country.”

After his presentation, Lippert told just-drinks that SABMiller is still keen to make an entry into a beer market dominated by Anheuser-Busch InBev's AmBev division.

“There has got to be something for you to have an interest,” he said. “If you ask me if something is for sale, the answer's no. Could there be? Maybe. Would we be interested? Of course.

“Trust me, we are looking at every angle, all the time. There are things to think about, but nothing to announce. But, we will find a way.”

The next possible acquisition target for the world's multi-national brewers in Brazil appears to be Petropolis, which holds a 10% market share. Reports last year suggested that Kirin had approached the brewer, although nothing has developed further.

On Schincariol, Lippert said: “We were outbid. You know the price was crazy, yes?”

SABMiller's imported sales office in Brazil, which comprised nine employees, was opened in 2010. The brewer took the decision to close the office in September. Since then, the brewer has sold a small amount of international premium beer via Argentina.