Bill Gates has again invested in a multinational brewer, picking up shares in Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest beer maker.
The Microsoft tycoon invested in the under-pressure Bud Light brewer through a foundation trust.
An SEC filing has disclosed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust paid just under $96.6m for 1.7m shares in AB InBev.
So far this year, the brewer’s share price is down almost 9%, hit by the backlash against Bud Light’s tie-up with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
At the start of April, Mulvaney posted a video of a personalised Bud Light can AB InBev had sent her to commemorate one year since her transitioning. However, the post quickly became a target of transphobic abuse from conservative-leaning figures in the US, leading to calls for a boycott of the Bud Light brand.
As a consequence, in the second quarter to 30 June, AB InBev’s US revenue dropped 10.5% year on year. The EBITDA the brewer generated in the US fell more than 28%.
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When AB InBev reported its second-quarter numbers last month, CEO Michel Doukeris highlighted sales data from later in the quarter he said showed “signals of improvement” for the brewer’s US business.
Earlier today (6 September), analysts at AllianceBernstein claimed “[AB InBev’s hangover is showing no signs of letting up”.
Compared to a baseline of 1 April baseline, AB InBev’s US volumes were down 12 percentage points for the week ending 26 August, the analysts said.
“While this is slightly better than earlier data, it is also against a sequentially stronger market. Net, [AB InBev’s]’s market share is still at circa 36.6%, versus circa 42% pre-controversy. Molson Coors continues to be the main beneficiary of the controversy, with volumes growing an incremental 12 percentage points for the week ending August 26th versus the pre-controversy trend,” the analysts said. “For the week ending August 26th, Bud Light volumes were down 30% year on year (-23% incremental versus pre-controversy).”
The Gates’ investment follows the acquisition of shares in Heineken earlier this year.
A filing with the Netherlands’ Financial Markets Authority in February showed the trust bought 10.83m shares in Heineken Holding N.V. for €883m ($947.3m).
The purchase secured Mr Gates a direct 3.76% share in Heineken Holding NV and an indirect share of 1.89% in Heineken NV, in which Heineken Holding owns a controlling stake.
He bought 6.65m Heineken shares as a private individual and purchased 4.18m through the trust with his now ex-wife.