Anheuser-Busch InBev has reported a fall in net profit for 2008, with slowing global beer sales in the fourth quarter.

The brewing giant, which was formed last autumn after InBev gained clearance for its $52bn takeover of Anheuser, said today (5 March) that combined net profit fell to around EUR2.1bn (US$2.6bn) in 2008, down from EUR3bn in 2007.

Price rises helped the brewer to increase sales revenue for 2008 by 5%, to EUR16.1bn.

A-B InBev echoed other international brewers in reporting a slowdown in beer sales by volume in the final months of the year, however. Volumes were flat for the full-year and fell by 2% in the fourth quarter, it said.

A-B InBev's management board said that it had waived its bonuses for the year, because the group failed to meet performance targets.

On synergies from the takeover deal, A-B InBev said that it has raised its target from an original US$1.5bn to $2.25bn. It said that it expects to realise $1bn in 2009, with the rest flowing through within the following two years.

Going forward, the brewer intends to focus on cost savings and disposals in 2009. It said it planned to earn at least $7bn from disposals during the year, which will partly help to fund a bridge loan taken out to by InBev to finance the A-B deal.

Capital expenditure will also be reduced by $1bn in 2009, A-B InBev said. On beer markets, the group said that it plans to "maintain pricing discipline", while it also plans to improve group cash flow.