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SABMiller PLC - Acquisition in China

RNS Number:9732C
SABMiller PLC
15 September 2004


  SABMiller joint-venture acquires Lion Nathan breweries in China for US$154m


London and Johannesburg, 15 September 2004.  SABMiller plc's Chinese
joint-venture, China Resources Breweries Limited ('CRB'), announces that it has
acquired the Chinese brewing interests of Lion Nathan for an equity value of
US$71 million and estimated assumed debt of US$83 million.  The acquired
business consists of three breweries employing over 1,000 people in the
economically developed Yangtze River Delta region (Southern Jiangsu province)
close to Shanghai.  The breweries have installed capacity of 5.16 million
hectolitres with sales volumes of 2.19 million hectolitres forecast for the year
ending September 2004.  In the six months to March 2004, spanning the
low-consumption winter season, Lion Nathan's Chinese business reported an EBITA
loss of A$7.0 million on sales of A$22.8 million.  Volumes increased by 63 per
cent to 0.5 million hectolitres, with organic volumes increasing 54 per cent.


The acquired company's brands include the mainstream beers Taihushui, Linkman
and Rheineck which are distributed in the Yangtze River Delta.  In this region
the company has an estimated market share of 20% and leading positions in and
around the cities of Wuxi, Suzhou, Changzhou and Nanjing.


Andre Parker, Managing Director of SABMiller Africa & Asia commented:


'This acquisition extends CRB's footprint in the strategically important Jiangsu
and Shanghai area with combined market volumes of 16 million hectolitres and
above average market pricing.  The breweries' excellent geographic fit with
CRB's existing operations in neighbouring Anhui, Zhejiang and Hubei offers
potential synergies in marketing, procurement and logistics.  In addition, the
business is expected to benefit from improving sales mix within the existing
brand portfolio and by the accelerated introduction of Snow.  As a result we are
confident in CRB's ability to significantly enhance profitability in the short
to medium term.'


Frank Ning, Chairman of China Resources Enterprise, said:


'Since the beginning of this year, our production capacity has already expanded
by about 30% through acquisitions at reasonable cost. This acquisition, being
the third this year, is another major step for us to consolidate our leading
position in the mainland brewery market and develop a complete national
distribution network for Snow. It has provided us not just a portfolio of strong
brands in Jiangsu, where we have not had operations before, but also a platform
for our business to grow further in the Yangtze River Delta region.'

CRB is a joint-venture with SABMiller's Chinese partner, China Resources
Enterprise Limited.  The acquisition confirms CRB as the second largest brewer
in China, with a market share of 12% and production capacity of 55.8 million
hectolitres across 36 breweries.  In the year to March 2004, CRB reported sales
volumes of 25.8 million hectolitres, including 7 million hectolitres of Snow.
SABMiller entered the China market in 1994 and is one of few profitable foreign
brewers operating in the country.

Ends


About SABMiller plc

SABMiller plc is one of the world's largest brewers, with 2003/04 lager sales
volumes in excess of 137 million hectolitres.  It has a brewing presence in over
40 countries across four continents and a portfolio of strong brands and leading
market shares in many of the countries in which it has brewing operations.
Outside the USA, SABMiller plc is one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola
products in the world.


In the year ended 31 March 2004, the group generated US$1,391million pre-tax
profit from a turnover of US$12,645 million.  SABMiller plc is listed on the
London and Johannesburg stock exchanges.


About China Resources Breweries Limited

China Resources Breweries Limited was established in 1994 and is engaged in the
production, sales and marketing of beer and beverages in China. Its shareholders
are China Resources Enterprise, Limited and SABMiller plc, the third largest
brewing group in the world. China Resources Enterprise Limited has a 51%
interest in China Resources Breweries Limited while SABMiller plc holds a 49%
interest. It currently operates 33 breweries in the Chinese Mainland with total
sales volume of 25.8 million hectolitres in 2003.


About China Resources Enterprise, Limited

China Resources Enterprise, Limited is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange
and is also traded on SEAQ International of the London Stock Exchange. It is
also one of the constituent stocks of the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong and Hang
Seng London Reference Index. The Group has a well-diversified portfolio of
businesses in both Hong Kong and the Chinese Mainland, with principal activities
being retail, beverage, food processing and distribution, textile and petroleum
distribution.


This announcement is available on www.sabmiller.com


For further information:


Contacts:

Sue Clark

Director of Corporate Affairs                    Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7659 0184

SABMiller plc                                    Mob: + 44 (0) 7850 285471


Gary Leibowitz

Vice President, Investor Relations               Tel: +44 (0) 20 7659 0119

SABMiller plc                                    Mob: +44 (0) 7717 428540


Nigel Fairbrass

Head of Corporate Communications (Finance)       Tel: +44 (0) 20 7659 0105

SABMiller plc                                    Mob: +44 (0) 7799 894265


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange
END

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