American brewer Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. announced its purchase of approximately 14 percent of Chilean-based Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A., a diversified beverage company operating principally in Chile and Argentina. CCU is the leading brewer in Chile, holding 90 percent domestic market share.
The two brewers have been partners for five years in Argentina, where Anheuser-Busch holds 11 percent of CCU's Argentine beer subsidiary and where CCU locally brews and sells Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser beer brand. Budweiser brewed by CCU in Argentina is also exported to Chile and Paraguay. In Chile, CCU imports and distributes Budweiser.
Anheuser-Busch will pay an estimated $224 million for approximately 45 million existing shares in the Santiago-based CCU parent company. These shares will be purchased from Compania de Inversiones Mobiliarias Limitada, a subsidiary of Compania de Petroleos de Chile S.A. (COPEC), a leading Chilean corporation, and from Chilean pension funds. The transaction is expected to close before January 10. The purchase expands Anheuser-Busch's presence in the fast-growing South American beer and beverage markets.
Beer represents 55 percent of CCU revenues. CCU produces in excess of 4 million barrels (5 million hectoliters) of beer annually globally. CCU was established in 1902 and is the second-largest Chilean soft-drink producer, the third-largest Chilean winery and the largest Chilean mineral water producer.
"CCU is a great company with a strong business base, and we have tremendous respect for their management team," said August A. Busch III, chairman of the board and president of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. "They have been excellent partners with us in Argentina."