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Tsingtao sale to raise US$235m

Anheuser-Busch InBev NV said it would raise US$235 million through selling its stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd, the latest move in its global sales spree to reduce debt.

The world's biggest beer maker has agreed to sell its remaining 7 percent stake in Tsingtao to Chen Fashu, a Chinese national and private investor, the brewery said yesterday.

The shares would be sold at HK$19.83 (US$2.56) each. Shares of Tsingtao, the nation's biggest beer maker, were down 2.22 percent to HK$22 yesterday.

The sale came one day after AB InBev announced it would sell Oriental Brewery, the second-largest brewery in South Korea, to private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co LP in a deal valued at US$1.8 billion.

Belgium-based AB InBev, brewer of Stella Artois and Budweiser, is hoping to recoup US$7 billion from asset sales worldwide and issued bonds to pay off US$45 billion of loans stemming from its US$52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch last year.

In January, AB InBev agreed to sell its majority stake in Tsingtao to Japan's Asahi for US$667 million. The deal allowed Asahi to acquire 19.9 percent of Tsingtao and reduced AB InBev's stake to 7 percent.

AB InBev still owns around 28 percent of China's Guangzhou Zhujiang Brewery Co Ltd. Y.R. Cheng, the president of AB InBev China, said in March the brewer was not considering selling its stake as Zhujiang was a successful brewery with a 40 to 50 percent market share in Guangdong Province.

Despite its cutbacks, AB InBev said it would focus on higher-margin brands such as Budweiser and Stella Artois as the global recession had dampened demand for beer in wealthy countries.

In March, AB InBev opened a 600-million-yuan (US$87.7 million) factory in Foshan City in Guangdong Province, which has a production capacity of 260,000 tons for Budweiser and Harbin.


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