Grupo Modelo is likely to form a partnership with new Anheuser-Busch owner InBev, despite the Mexican brewer's insistence that it has several options available, analysts believe.

 

The chief executive of Modelo, which was half-owned by A-B, told a conference call yesterday (28 July) that it had held talks with InBev but had not yet consented to entering a partnership with the Belgium-based brewer.

 

InBev's US$52bn deal for A-B and the latter's tie-in with Modelo have put Mexico at the centre of speculation about global beer industry consolidation.

 

Analysts have disputed whether Modelo would be legally entitled to opt out of a deal with InBev.

 

But one analyst told just-drinks a partnership made sense for both companies, offering InBev better access to Mexico and Modelo improved distribution. "Modelo is going to have to think about a way to increase international exports".

 

He said InBev may also seek to gain more than A-B's 50% stake in the Mexican brewer in the longer term by taking advantage of Modelo's succession problems.

 

Modelo family voting interests, he added, are controlled by 90-year-old Antonino Fernandez Rodriguez, who holds the position of life chairman. "When he dies, control will pass to individual family members, who have very different views on where the company has been and where it needs to go."

 

Modelo, which owns the Corona beer brand, said recently that net sales in the three months to the end of June inched up by only 0.4% on the corresponding period a year earlier, reaching MXN20.41bn (US$2.03bn). Export sales slipped 1.4%, while operating profit fell 10.9% to MXN5.82bn.