AB InBev sells nine breweries for $3bn

BEVERAGES giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) sold nine Central European breweries to buyout house CVC in a deal worth as much as $3bn (&pound;1.8bn) yesterday.<br /><br />The sale, under which CVC will get the rights to sell brands like Stella Artois, Becks and Hooegaarden in the region, is the third by the firm in recent months.<br /><br />AB InBev said that with this latest deal it has now pushed past its target of raising $7bn to help pay for its $52bn merger with US rival Anheuser-Busch which it completed last November. <br /><br />CVC will take control of Czech lager Staropramen under the deal, although InBev will still be able to sell the brand in most regions. <br /><br />The deal was for an initial $2.23bn but the firms said this could rise to $3.03bn depending on CVC&rsquo;s return on investment. AB InBev has the right of first refusal to reacquire the business should CVC decide to sell in the future.<br /><br />The breweries are located in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovakia.<br /><br />Analysts said the breweries were put up for sale as AB InBev did not have key positions in any of the large beer markets. But, competition in the areas from SABMiller and Heineken meant a bid from the world&rsquo;s second and third largest brewers was unlikely for anti-trust reasons.<br /><br /><strong>ANTONIO WEISS<br />LAZARD GLOBAL M&amp;A HEAD<br /></strong>ANHEUSER-Busch InBev (ABInBev) opted for a mix of tried-and-tested talent and new blood when assembling an advisory team for its giant Central European asset sale.<br /><br />Longstanding advisory choice Lazard was paired with Barclays Capital (BarCap), a recent entrant into the European mergers &amp; acquisitions (M&amp;A) consumer sector.<br /><br />At Lazard Antonio Weiss, named as global M&amp;A head at the firm in March, led the AB InBev sale, drawing on his experience working on deals for private equity firm KKR to inform his negotiations with CVC. Yale and Harvard graduate Weiss, 42, joined Lazard in New York in 1993 and was named as a managing director in 1999. <br /><br />He was joined by Wouter Han, co-head of Lazard&rsquo;s Benelux business, and Alexander Hecker, a director at the firm in New York.<br /><br />BarCap&rsquo;s efforts were led by James Ben, placed in charge of the consumer sector at the firm by Bob Diamond after it bought Lehman Brothers&rsquo; North American investment banking unit in December 2008.<br /><br />The AB InBev transaction was the latest in a series of high-profile coups for BarCap, as it was the first time the investment bank had advised on a deal for AB InBev.<br /><br />CVC&rsquo;s acquisition of the AB InBev assets was advised by Magic Circle law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The group described the deal as &ldquo;not only one of the largest private equity transactions ever in Central and Eastern Europe, but the largest buyout in Europe so far this year&rdquo;.