UK: Comment - Will Heineken join A-B in Latin American venture?

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Heineken may seek a partnership with US beer giant Anheuser-Busch, analysts believe following a presentation last night by Heineken executive Tony Ruys.

Equity analyst WestLB Panmure said, in a report today, that the major international beer producers faced the problem of potential over-payment for assets on the one hand and the need to balance the effects of emerging market exposure, where there are higher growth prospects.

WestLB said Heineken indicated that a solution to the over-payment issue could come in Latin America, through a multi-country partnership with A-B.

Both Heineken and Anheuser have common equity holdings in CCU in Chile, while Heineken also has stakes in Quilmes in Argentina and Kaiser in Brazil.

The analyst said that since A-B lost its distribution deal for Budweiser in Brazil, as a result of the AmBev merger, it is conceivable that Kaiser could distribute the brand.

In the presentation, Heineken referred to further expansion in developed economies to off-set this exposure to risk. Here Germany was mentioned and so was Carling in the UK. However, the Carling brand was described as a "nice to have" rather than a "must have".

Heineken has long been looking at ways to improve the premium image of its brand in the UK and many believe the best way to do this would be through a Carling acquisition.

However WestLB said: "We have suggested that treating the UK like the USA - as an export only market - reduces the capital outlay and increases returns. We believe that Heineken is of sufficient importance in the UK that it could readily broke distribution deals with companies like Interbrew, Carlsberg, HP Bulmer or regional brewers."

To view related research reports, please follow the links below:-

Strategic Review - Heineken
Strategic Review - Anheuser-Busch
Beer - The International Market

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