Budweiser brewer sells Australian unit to pay off debt

U.S. & World

FILE – In this Thursday, March 3, 2011 file photo, a man walks past the AB InBev logos, in Leuven, Belgium. AB Inbev, the world’s biggest brewer with brands like Budweiser and Corona, is selling its unit in Australia to reduce debt after it decided against listing shares in Asia. The company said Friday, July 19, 2019 it is selling Carlton & United Breweries for $16 billion AUD ($11.3 billion) to Japanese brewing rivals Asahi Group. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, file)

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BRUSSELS (AP) — AB Inbev, the world’s biggest brewer with brands like Budweiser and Corona, said Friday it is selling its unit in Australia to reduce debt after it decided against listing shares in Asia.

The company is selling Carlton & United Breweries for $16 billion AUD ($11.3 billion) to Japanese rival Asahi Group.

AB Inbev, which is based in Belgium, said it will use almost all the money from the deal to pay down debt. The company has accrued a mountain of debt – about $100 billion – after going on an acquisition spree, including buying Anheuser-Busch in 2008 and its next closest rival, SABMiller, in 2015.

The SABMiller deal, which was worth some $107 billion at the time, gave the company broader reach in fast-growing markets in Asia and Africa at a time when consumers were shifting toward smaller brands like microbrews.

It gave it almost a third of the global beer market and put established brands that had formerly been rivals under the same roof – American icons Budweiser and Miller, for example.

AB Inbev has sought to shed some brands to slim down its debt load and had planned to list some shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to further bolster its finances. But it said this month that it no longer planned to list those shares due to tough market conditions.

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