TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke: The world’s largest brewer — Anheuser-Busch-InBev — signed a deal this morning to sell a slew of its East-European breweries. This is the latest sell-off since InBev and Anheuser-Busch merged last year. Let’s bring in our Europe correspondent Stephen Beard live from London. Good morning.
Stephen Beard: Good morning Bill.
Radke: Why is the company selling all these breweries?
Beard: Mainly to raise cash to pay off debt. InBev, the Belgian company, borrowed very heavily to buy Anheuser-Busch last year, and the combined group now owes more than $50 billion. And the group has been selling assets to pay down that debt. Asset sales so far have raised around $9 billion, so they’re getting there.
Radke: What does this selling tell us about the health of this giant, Anheuser-Busch-InBev creation?
Beard: Well analysts are saying so far it shows that the takeover appears to be paying off. The asset sales are going well. They’ve sold theme parks, car-making plants, breweries of course. And they’re fetching pretty good prices in what are difficult market conditions. The stock market certainly seems to like this deal. The combined company share price has doubled over the past year.
Radke: So what could this mean for the company’s American operations?
Beard: Well it’s perhaps not too positive. One analyst I spoke to today said beer sales are still struggling, particularly in the U.S. And the company is going to have to take out costs there. American job losses are a distinct possibility.
Radke: Stephen Beard joining us live from London. Thank you.
Beard: OK Bill.