When Anheuser-Busch InBev
The takeover that created the brewing behemoth closed in November amid a collapsing economy and tightening credit markets. Getting reasonable prices for assorted corporate pieces seemed a stretch.
But Brito, who is famous for cutting costs and eschewing perks, is halfway to his goal. And if a Friday report in The Wall Street Journal proves true, he will be on the threshold of fulfilling his promise on time.
Citing unidentified sources, the Journal said Anheuser-Busch InBev is trying to sell its theme parks to asset management giant Blackstone Group
Anheuser-Busch InBev owns 10 venues, including Sea World and Busch Gardens. Blackstone is the majority owner of U.K.-based Merlin Entertainments Group, (which includes Madame Tussauds and LEGOLAND). Merlin owns theme parks primarily in Europe but also in the U.S. and Asia. Blackstone also owns 50% of the Universal Orlando theme park/resort complex.
Fun while it lasted
For the independent Anheuser-Busch, theme parks represented one part marketing device and one part decent-profit business. Ever since the takeover, the park business has been barely mentioned in Anheuser-Busch InBev's communications, and the company doesn't provide separate financial data on it.
The last detailed look was a 2008 third-quarter 10-Q filing from the still-independent St. Louis brewer. For nine months, theme parks produced revenue of $1.14 billion, with an operating profit margin of nearly 24%.
Merlin Entertainments reported $966 million in revenue for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31.
Better BUD balance sheet
So far, Brito's major divestures, worth nearly $3.3 billion, include:
- Four metal can and lid packaging plants to Ball
(NYSE:BLL)for $577 million on Oct. 1.
- The Oriental Brewery in South Korea for $1.8 billion to an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts on July 24.
- A 7% stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery to a private investor for $235 million on June 5. A 19.9% stake in Tsingtao was sold to a Japanese beer company for $667 million on April 30.
A lighter balance sheet allows Brito to better pursue his goals of making Budweiser an international brand and defending its American turf against the U.S. joint venture of SABMiller (OTC BB: SBMRY), and Molson Coors
If Brito is as good at brewing and marketing as he appears to be at reducing debt, then his extended Budweiser family could be the king of shares as well as the King of Beers.
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