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GLOBAL: SABMiller buoyed by beer sales rise in H1

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Strong demand for beer in Africa, Latin America and China has helped SABMiller to sell 3% more beer in the first half of its fiscal year.

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Growth in emerging markets continued to offset weak beer markets across Europe and North America in the six months to the end of September, SABMiller said today (19 October). Net sales for the period rose by 6% on the first half of last year, with volume gains bolstered by price increases.

The Peroni Nastro Azzurro brewer will not release its full half-year results until 17 November, but it said that the figures are in-line with its expectations.

It has been a busy few weeks for SABMiller. Earlier today, the group announced a strategic alliance with Turkey's Anadolu Efes. Also, last month, SAB also agreed to acquire Foster's Group for AUD9.9bn (US$10.2bn).

In its existing markets, SABMiller reported the strongest half-year volume growth in Africa, where volumes rose by 15% thanks to healthy demand in Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and improved economic conditions in Zimbabwe. Volumes in Latin America also improved for the six-month period, up by 8% as SABMiller's Bavaria subsidiary recovered from the effects of a beer tax rise in its native Colombia.

Lager volumes in Asia rose by 4% for the period, but SABMiller continued to face regulatory problems in India, as well as duty tax rises. In China, recent acquisitions by SABMiller's joint-venture in the country, CR Snow Breweries, increased the brewer's scale.

There was a different story in Europe and North America over the half-year. In the US, SABMiller's joint-venture with Molson Coors, MillerCoors, reported volume sales to retailers down by 2.3%. In Europe, meanwhile, volumes were flat as a return to growth in Russia and higher demand for premium lager in the UK offset weakness in Poland, Czech Republic and, in particular, Romania.  

In South Africa, SABMiller also reported flat beer volumes for the six months, albeit in a market that "declined slightly". In soft drinks, the brewer's global volume sales rose by 6% for the period.


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