The US brewing combine, Anheuser-Busch, has voiced its opposition to a planned CLP169m dividend payment by the Chilean drinks group, Compania Cervecerias Unidas (CCU), in which it owns a 20% stake. The extraordinary dividend was proposed on January 14, the same day that Heineken announced it was to buy a participation in CCU currently owned by the German group, Schoerghuber Stiftung & Co.

"We don't think it's in the best interest of CCU or of all of its shareholders that the company assumes debt to pay an extraordinary dividend at this time," said Steven Burrows, president and chief executive officer of Anheuser-Bush International. "CCU is confronting complicated economic conditions in Chile and Argentina, its principal markets, and new competition in the region. Considering current circumstances, it would be preferable to reduce its level of debt and not to raise it."

CCU is 61.6%-owned by the holding company, Quinenco, and the German company, Schoerghuber Stiftung & Co., through a 50-50 joint venture company called Inversiones y Rentas. A-B is the second largest shareholder in CCU with 20%.

However, in January it was announced that Heineken is proposing to buy Schoerghuber Stiftung's stake at a premium without making a tender offer to other shareholders. Anheuser has asked the Chilean markets regulator to review the matter.

Heineken has said that it disagrees with Anheuser-Busch's position regarding the offer. Investment bank, UBS Warburg, said in a report that it doubted Heineken would be compelled to make an offer to minority shareholders.