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BELGIUM: A-B InBev Eastern Europe sale still on

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Private equity group CVC Capital Partners still intends to acquire Anheuser-Busch InBev brewing assets in Eastern Europe, just-drinks understands.

CVC Capital is raising finance for a deal from some of Europe's major banks, according to a report in Belgian newspaper De Standaard yesterday (16 September).

just-drinks understands from a source familiar with the situation that CVC Capital remains intent on buying A-B InBev's Eastern European brewing assets, excluding Sun InBev in Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier reports said A-B InBev had abandoned the sale.

CVC Capital is believed to be the only bidder for the assets, which are thought to include include 11 breweries in Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

A-B InBev has repeatedly declined to comment on the sale speculation, but is publicly committed to a total $7bn of disposals in order to pay down loans used to fund InBev's $52bn buyout of Anheuser-Busch late last year.

Analysts continue to believe that a sell-off in Eastern Europe, which could raise around $2bn and may include the Staropramen lager brand, makes sense for the brewer.

"Not much has changed in the company's position in the last few months," said Gerard Rijk, analyst with Netherlands-based ING Wholesale Banking.

"The company wants a sharper focus on big markets, like North America, Latin America and China, with a presence in Western Europe heritage markets, like Belgium and UK, to supply the global brands," he told just-drinks.

A-B InBev's Eastern Europe assets "do not fit in any more", he said.

The brewer made no mention of Eastern Europe operations outside of Russia and Ukraine in its recent full-year results statement.

However, analysts believe that with A-B InBev's financing relatively secure, following strong progress on synergies and around $3.5bn of disposals already completed this year, the brewer can afford to wait for the right price on disposals.


Sectors: Beer & cider

Companies: Anheuser-Busch InBev

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