AB InBev Falls After Taking $1.1 Billion Hit on Russian JV Exit
By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com -- AB InBev (EBR: ABI ) stock fell in early trading in Europe on Friday after the world's largest brewer said it will take a hit of over $1 billion on due to exiting its joint venture in Russia.
AB InBev, the company behind Budweiser, Beck's, and Hoegaarden, said it will take a non-cash charge of $1.1 billion to write down its investment in AB InBev Efes, the Russian-based JV in which it holds a 24% stake. The brewer is currently in negotiations to sell that stake to its partner, Turkey's Efes Anadolu. AB InBev has already requested the suspension of its license to brew and sell Bud in Russia, and the company said this request "will also be part of a potential transaction," without elaborating further.
Russia has been a key growth market for AB InBev over the last 20 years, although beer sales growth has flattened out in recent years as the market has become more saturated.
By 3:50 AM ET (0750 GMT), AB InBev stock was down 2.0%, underperforming a decline of 1.4% in the Euro Stoxx 50 .
AB InBev's major international rivals, Heineken (OTC: HEINY ) and Carlsberg (OTC: CABGY ), have already announced plans to leave the country. Carlsberg said on Thursday that it currently expects a writedown of 9.5 billion Danish kroner ($1.38 billion) on its Russia business and additional writedowns of its assets in Ukraine. It revised down its earnings guidance for 2022 as a result of the war at the same time and warned of an ongoing high level of uncertainty. The stock still rose to its highest since the start of March on relief that the news wasn't worse.
Heineken said in March it expects a charge of 400 million euros ($432 million) from its exit. International sanctions on the country since its invasion of Ukraine have limited the pool of prospective buyers, and Heineken still hasn't announced who will take over its operations. The company is nonetheless paying the wage of its 1,800 staff in the country through the end of the year.
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