At the rate CEO Carlos Brito is selling assets, you wonder if Anheuser-Busch InBev
Brito continued his divestiture parade on Thursday by agreeing to sell his Central European beer operations to CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Luxembourg, for as much as $3 billion.
The deal, which is expected to close in January, includes $1.62 billion in cash and an interest-bearing deferred payment of $448 million. Anheuser-Busch InBev could get another $800 million depending on CVC's return on its initial investment in a business, which it is calling StarBev and which covers nine countries, including Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Peeling the non-core
When Belgium's InBev bought St. Louis' Anheuser-Busch in November 2008, Brito said he wanted to sell $7 billion in "non-core" assets to help retire the debt incurred to make the $52 billion takeover. The CVC deal means Brito will have exceeded his goal.
Analysts assumed that "non-core" primarily meant non-beer. Brito has sold part of the former Anheuser-Busch's packaging business to Ball
However, non-core clearly includes beer. In addition to Thursday's divestiture, Anheuser-Busch InBev has sold its stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery and has sold a South Korean brewer to an affiliate of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Taking care of the debt business
When you examine all the divestitures, it appears Brito is single-handedly reviving the private equity business. Well, not exactly, although Anheuser-Busch InBev appears to have gotten good prices in a difficult climate.
Less debt 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: SBMRY), and Molson Coors
As for further financial fortification, Anheuser-Busch InBev recently sold $5.5 billion in debt with maturities ranging from 2012 to 2040. The company said this sale "enhances [its] financial flexibility" and helps pay off certain acquisition-related debt two years ahead of schedule.
Judging from Anheuser-Busch InBev's recent performance on the New York and Brussels exchanges, equity investors are pleased with Brito's debt management. Now, all he has to do is sell more beer.
For further Foolishness: