There aren’t too many details yet, but it was announced today that the long rumored — and just as long denied — distribution agreement between Anheuser-Busch and InBev will occur. What we do know so far is that A-B will take over distribution of all of InBev’s brands in the U.S., with the exception of Brahma and Labatts. I have already heard from InBev employees I know that they will lose their jobs as of the end of January next year. There’s no word yet how many people will be rendered redundant and how many, if any, will get to keep their jobs.
How this will effect the industry remains to be seen, but rest assured it will have a big impact on a variety of fronts. The deal is effective February 1, 2007.
Here are some early reports on the deal from a variety of sources:
From the press release:
ST. LOUIS – Brussels (November 30, 2006) – Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD) will become the exclusive U.S. importer of a number of InBev’s (Euronext: INB) premium European import brands, including Stella Artois®, Beck’s®, Bass Pale Ale®, Hoegaarden®, Leffe® and other select InBev brands, the two brewers announced today.
Effective February 1, 2007, Anheuser-Busch will import these premium brands and be responsible for their sales, promotion and distribution in the United States. These InBev brands, which had sales volumes of about 1.9 million hectoliters (or about 1.5 million barrels) in 2005, will be available to Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. wholesaler network where possible.
InBev’s Canadian brands, including Labatt Blue® and Labatt Blue Light®, as well as Brahma®, are not included in the agreement. Working closely with Labatt Breweries of Canada, InBev USA will continue to market and sell the Labatt and Brahma brands through a separate distribution network.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
“This agreement gives us highly-valued brands that appeal to beer drinkers looking for sophisticated imports in their beer choices,” said August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive officer of Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc. “We live in a world with diverse cultures and lifestyles, and this provides additional variety for our consumers. These well-known import brands complement our company’s leading portfolio of American premium beers and enable our company to better compete. This is consistent with our stated strategy of enhancing our participation in the U.S. high-end beer segment.”
“By securing access to Anheuser-Busch’s world-class sales and distribution system, this agreement will enhance opportunities for U.S. consumers to experience the unique values of our premium European import brands, and further accelerate their growth,” said Carlos Brito, CEO, InBev. “This is another step in InBev’s mission to create enduring bonds with our consumers throughout the world.”
Doug Corbett, president of InBev USA, said: “InBev USA remains fully committed to the Labatt Canadian brands and to Brahma. These are great brands with a lot of potential and this agreement will allow us to focus on growing them in their markets.”