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INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT LUCKNOW

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT

The Best Beer company

TERM III PROJECT REPORT

Completed under the guidance of

Prof. Sabyasachi Sinha

Report by

Areeba Hasan (PGP32120) | Deepak Sharma (PGP32146)

Mohit Thawani (ABM13015)  |  Sakshi Saini (PGP32133)  

Sanuj Mittal (PGP32115)  |  Tanay Shah (PGP32114)

Table of Contents

AB INBEV'S VALUE CHAIN ANALYSIS 4

Primary Activities 5

Support Activities 5

AB INBEV'S MARKETING STRATEGY 6

AB INBEV'S MARKETING CAMPAIGNS 6

TOGETHER FOR SAFER ROADS CROSS-SECTOR COALITION 7

BRAND ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES 8

Strategy for local markets 9

North America 9

Latin America 9

Brazil 9

EU, ME & Africa 10

APAC & India 10

Talent Acquisition, Development and Employee Engagement 10

Talent Acquisition 10

Talent Development 10

Performance Culture 11

Selectivity in Recruitment 11

Incentive Pay 12

Promotion from within 12

Growth Strategy 12

Cost Reduction 13

Capturing value 13

Improving Industry Attractiveness 13

Product Diversification 13

Marketing Campaign 14

Water Stewardship 14

Smart Barley program 15

Global Smart Drinking Goal 15

Financial Analysis 16

The Road Ahead 18

References 19

History & Overview

AB InBev is an MNC in the beverage and brewing industry. With its headquarters in Belgium and offices across the world, AB InBev is the market leader in the beer industry. AB InBev is a result of the acquisition of the American Brewer, Anheuser Busch (Established 1852) by InBev. InBev, in turn, was a result of a 2004 merger between Belgium's Interbrew (Established 1987) and Brazil's Ambev (Established 1880s). Interbrew was the third largest and Ambev was the fifth largest player in the beer industry and the resulting InBev became the no. 1 beer maker in the world. AB InBev is currently the largest beer maker in the world and is way ahead of its competitors in terms of production due to its widespread presence across the world and its highly differentiated and varied brands.

Ambev is a key component of the massive AB InBev conglomerate and it was based in Brazil. It formed by a merger of two of the oldest Brazilian breweries, Brahma and Companhia Antarctica Paulista in 1999. It is, therefore, evident that mergers and acquisitions have been the dominant paths of growth for AB Inbev. Recently, the company was in news for the famous SAB Miller merger, which further strengthened the position of AB InBev in the industry and also made it the world's leading consumer products company. The merger with their largest rival in the industry placed AB Inbev among the likes of P&G and Unilever in terms of revenues and the leader in terms of profit margins (EBITDA). This is one among several examples where mergers and acquisitions have helped the company grow and we would like to discuss this growth strategy with the example of AB InBev in our report.

With revenues of $ 45 Billion in 2016, AB InBev is a large company. It is truly global in nature and boasts of having a product line so extensive that almost all the countries around the world consume one brand or the other. It has over 400 products worldwide including Budwiser, Corona, Stella etc. They basically divide all their brands into three categories and use focused marketing strategies for each of them. These three categories are Global brands, International brands and local champion brands. AB InBev, undoubtedly is the hugest name in beverages around the world.

Figure – AB-InBev, a result of numerous mergers and takeovers over the years (Source – Wikipedia)

As an organization, AB InBev focus a lot on bringing people together. They believe in serving people on various occasions that promote a culture of shared living. Hence, they focus a lot on connecting with their customers and apart from advertisements like all other competitors, AB InBev also uses innovative marketing campaigns that highlight company objectives and help build an emotional connect with the customers. We would also like to briefly have a look at these marketing strategies that AB InBev employees.

Apart from this, we would have a look at the chain of operations that the company follows that make it a strong player in their business. We'll also take a glance at the modern challenges that they are facing in the brewing business and analyse options for future growth for the company.

AB INBEV'S VALUE CHAIN ANALYSIS

AB InBev has differentiated itself from its competitors by executing the business and operating strategies which reinforce each other. AB InBev aims at being cost efficient for being the cost leader in market and to have the strongest distribution network. Being cost efficient in production gives the company resources to invest into marketing in order to spread brand awareness and maintain a strong connection with its existing and potential customers.  

Primary Activities

• Inbound Logistics

Busch Agricultural Resources Incorporation is the most important subsidiary company that manages malt plants, hops farms, barley agriculture and other sources of the required raw materials used in AB InBev beers production. They also focus on managing relationships with the outside suppliers of glass packing bottles, cardboard packaging products and similar requirements. Developing relationships and limiting the number of their suppliers over years has allowed the company to reduce its costs and maximize profitability.

• Operations

AB InBev overall owns and operates 12 breweries located in the United States. All these breweries use standard practices of turning water, hops, barley along with other ingredients into beer following a prescribed process which includes mixing, heating and cooling. All the separate brands have unique set of ingredients which go through a unique way of brewing process which gives it a distinct flavor.

• Outbound Logistics

AB InBev owns as well as operates wholesalers located in 13 cities across the US. It also has an elaborate and extensive network of more than 500 independent wholesalers. This allows the company to sell its products in almost every big and small town in America. Most of the transport is outsourced by the company, however, they do have a fleet of own shipping trucks but that is comparatively a very small portion.

• Marketing and Sales

AB InBev plays majorly on two points to be able to beat its competition. These two major factors are- first, a comparatively very high advertisement and marketing budget which helps them reach and attract more customers, second, they leverage the benefits of economies of scale which helps them provide their products at a very low price as compared to other brands.

• Service

The company does not invest a huge sum of resources in the service activities as it does in all other primary activities. The reason behind this is that customer support is not a substantial part for the company as a very small proportion of people need support after purchase

Support Activities

• Procurement

AB InBev has a well-established relationship network with some of its long-term suppliers and also quite a few of its own in-house suppliers. The raw material is purchased in large quantity and that allows the company to get supplies at a price lower than the average prices paid by competitors and receives consistent quality.

• Human Resource Management

Ab InBev invests a significant level of time and effort into the hiring process and the training process of employees. The Global Management Training Program of the company is a 10 months long program aiming to recruit top candidates and prepare them for future in higher and leadership positions of the company.

• Technological Development

The overall production and distribution process of the company's beers are available in financial statements released and its website, however, the company keeps upgrading its processes and brewing equipment in order to maintain a competitive advantage over others. Hence, what exactly makes these beers so unique is a formula which is not publicly available.

• Infrastructure

The 12 breweries form the core component of the company's infrastructure. These are all located strategically which allows production of beer close to the many warehouses located across the country reducing transportation costs among various other costs.

AB INBEV'S MARKETING STRATEGY

AB InBev's vision is to add to life's enjoyment through all of the products, services and relationships. Although the company wants to promote all the products their main emphasis is on three particular segments-  Global Brands, International Brands and local Champions as they heavily invest in advertisement for all three. Apart from advertising like all competitors to increase sales the company has a marketing strategy of reaching out to the customers by launching social campaigns. This helps them create a competitive edge over others by developing an emotional connect with the customer which leaves an imprint on their mind.

AB INBEV'S MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

RESPONSIBLE DRINKING

The Global Advisory Council, which comprised of accomplished private and public sector leaders, was formed in 2014 to provide insight and guidance to the company management. The main objective of this council was to focus on the role of business in society and to get into partnerships in order to foster well-being and to leverage expertise and reach. The community engages in shared value initiatives with other companies and government for responsible drinking, community building and sustainable environment.

“A Legacy of Responsibility”

Even though the Council was formed in 2014, the first advertisement to promote drink responsibly was launched in 1982. In 1990, AB InBev initiated the “Family Talk About Drink” program which primarily focused on addressing the underage drinking problem. Sponsor research programs on social norms to reduce risky drinking and the related behavior was done in the year 1999. RMCC was rolled out in 2009.

2010 was an important year in the context of responsible drinking as the 1st Annual Global Be(er) Responsible day was celebrated and the 1st set of global RD goals were also announced.

In 2013, the company partnered with supermarkets and beer shops to implement ID checking of the purchaser. The consumer commitment policy was enforced when the CEO made a commitment by joining with other brewers, wine and spirits to provide complete information to consumers.

The 1st set of global RD goals were achieved in 2014. A group of private sectors was created for “Together for Safer Roads” campaign. The City Project to address harmful reduction in Brazil and Mexico was launched in 2015 along with the new set of drinking goals which are to be implemented over a period of 10 years ranging 2015-2025.

The responsible drinking goals included the following among others:

• Reach at least 100 million adults with programs developed by subject matter experts that help parents talk about underage drinking with their parents.

• Provide ID-checking material and provide other educational information to 0.5 million bars, restaurants, clubs, and grocery stores which will help them to prevent sales to minors.

• Reach at least 0.5 billion consumers of legal-age to increase the awareness of importance of taking a designated driver or cab home in place of driving.

• Invest at least $300 million in advertising and the mentioned programs to help in educating consumers about responsible drinking and its importance.

“Foster a Culture of Smarter Drinking”

¬ Impacting Behavior via Societal Norms

♣ Reduce the harmful use of alcohol by minimum of 10% in 6 cities by 2020

♣ Implement the best practices globally by end of 2025

♣ Influence social norms and individual behavior to reduce harmful alcohol use by investing at least $1 billion across our markets in dedicated social marketing campaigns and related programs by end 2025.

¬ Empowering Consumers through Choice

♣ Ensure that no or low alcohol beer products of the company represent more than 20% of Company's global beer volume sold by the end of 2025

♣ Place a guidance label for safe drinking on all beer products in every market by the end of 2020

♣ Increase alcohol health literacy by the end of 2025.

TOGETHER FOR SAFER ROADS CROSS-SECTOR COALITION

Together for Safer Roads (TSR) is an innovative coalition which brings together private sector companies across globe to focus on improving the road safety and reducing the death rate and injuries rate by road traffic collisions. TSR uses knowledge, data and technology, and global networks of members to promote:

• Safer roads, safer vehicles and safer systems

• Safer users of road and transport

• Advocacy and thought about leadership

TSR was launched in the United Nations on 13th November, 2014 to people and bodies including UN Permanent Representatives, key stakeholders like the UN Global Compact and World Health Organization and media across the globe.

“World Safety Day 2015”

The member companies of TSR worked together with their employees to build awareness about road safety and its importance and over 500,000 employees were involved in the initiative.

The activities and deliverables were as the following:

• Internal communications, using digital & social media to the company staff

• Stickers, display banners and other promotional material with key road safety messages for display via placement on company fleet.

• Company pledges to make roads safer across communities

• Presentations with the local leaders attending and interacting at community events

• CEO videos to be shown on safe driving practices and its importance

The results achieved were:

• Increased involvement in safety issues within member companies, in employees' communities and across social media platforms where employees are present

• Greater visibility of road safety risk factors

• Through internal tracking mechanism success metrics were developed to evaluate future programs

BRAND ENGAGEMENT INITIATIVES

“Buy a Lady a Drink”

780 million people do not have access to clean drinking water and at the core of water shortage are the women. ‘Buy a Lady a Drink' is a campaign by Stella Artois in collaboration with water.org to raise awareness and help in providing women in need with access to clean drinking water.

This initiative was launched at Sundance Film Festival where videos highlighting the difficulties of women in water stressed areas were projected. Limited edition of traditional handcrafted objects from countries like Honduras, Ethiopia and India were sold to raise funds for the cause. There was social and digital media engagement to increase the awareness of the cause.

“Friends are Waiting Campaign”

It was initiative to educate consumers about not mixing driving and drinking together. The friends are waiting video opens with showing the deep love bond between two best friends- a man and a dog and it ends with showing the dog's expressions when the man does not come back home as he met with an accident due to drunk driving. this video was launched on Global Be(er) Responsible Day on September 19, 2014.

Strategy for local markets

The company leverages the brand image of its global brands Budweiser, Stella Artois & Corona in order to increase its sales in the local markets of the countries it operates in. It has continually increased its spending in distribution networks and has applied push marketing strategy to reach its sales targets.

ABInBev focuses on creating exciting experiences for its customers and offers a plenty of near beer products. It is able to target millennial with ease by conveying a unique character of its brands using product differentiation strategies.

North America

In north American states, Budweiser and Stella are the major contributors in terms of volume. The company has revitalized the regional crafts beer with a makeover to give them a local touch and feel. As the growth is more promising in the regional lager beer industry, the focus of the company has shifted.

Inmost regions, 0% alcohol and hard soda beers have been launched as part of its road safety drive to decrease the number of road accidents which occur due to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Latin America

Stella holds a very strong brand image in Latin America and therefore the company leverages this image on several occasions and events to promote sales. This region has administered continued growth of Bud Light and local beer options which have proved to be successful for the company.

This region being the native market for Corona has shown the highest annual growth rate and highest ratings for several years and this is also the target market with strong preference for light beers.

Brazil

Brazil offers a very loyal customer base for regional brands like Skol and Brahma. Furthermore, many variants of Brahma have been introduced and this has led to exponential growth in this region.

Additionally, global brands Budweiser and Stella also hold a strong foothold in this region resulting in a double digit annual growth rate.

EU, ME & Africa

The global brands Budweiser and Stella have stronghold in Europe as well. 0% alcohol beers have been a hit in this region and there has been a steady increase in the preference of flavored 0% and low content beers like Cranberry-Rose and Flying fish. The company adopted a unique marketing campaign for Castle Lite and provided with complementary ice packs to keep beer chilled. Introduction of Budweiser has long been pending in regions of ME and Russia.

APAC & India

APAC and India have shown continued growth in volume for Budweiser over the years. The super premium segment which comprises of Corona has also shown growth while Stella consumption as savor food compliment has also been on a rise. The company has future plans for introducing wheat and low content beer in this region as the sales are promising.

Talent Acquisition, Development and Employee Engagement

Talent Acquisition

• Global MBA Program

ABInBev is known for recruiting the best of MBA graduates from all over the world for its training and employee engagement programs. These graduates from top B-schools undergo a 12 month long intensive training program which helps them hone their on-ground managerial skills. Post the training period, the recruits are assigned bigger responsibilities and are thus on their way to successful careers.

• Global Management Trainee Program

Graduates from top universities worldwide are hired by experienced professionals from ABInBev. The trainees undergo a 10-month long training program, giving them an overview of a wide range of company operations and value chain activities. This is a highly competitive program wherein more than 94000 candidates applied out of which only 163 made it to the final training program of 2015.

Talent Development

• Excellence Programs

These are functional programs which are created to drive excellence in sustainable results for the company. These programs are beneficial for the employees in order to acquire and hone the skills so as to achieve excellence in areas such as brewery operations, sales & marketing, finance, human resources, corporate affairs and information & business services.

• Rewarding Performance

The company HR department has processes in place to measure and assess the performance of its employees from time to time. Lucrative rewards and compensation are offered as bonuses for stretched out but achievable sales targets. Thus for people who enjoy a merit-based environment, ABInBev is an attractive place which retains such employees.

• Employee Engagement

Based on responses collected from 108,000 of ABInBev employees, it was found out that the employee engagement rate of the company is 85% as per a survey conducted in December 2015.

Performance Culture

The accomplishments of ABInBev are a result of its people who have contributed to the centuries of historic and cultural evolution of the company. The monks of Belgium had demonstrated the importance of hard work, passion and dedication in crafting beer centuries ago and this tradition has been taken forward by the employees of AB InBev all over the world. The employees are expected to follow certain standards which are set by the executive management thus promoting a performance culture in the company.

The company CEO, Carlos Brito has successfully created a performance culture to manage more than 120,000 of the employees. The new recruits are able to find a sense of purpose and direction while being part of a large organization. Their attitudes and actions in the company are also influenced as they work together to find a common purpose through aggressive training and development programs launched by AB InBev and established around the globe. The company not only educates its employees on individual roles but also instils a sense of unity within each worker. It uses 3 parameters to achieve its goals: dream, people and culture

Selectivity in Recruitment

AB InBev puts a lot of focus in recruitment and selection of its employees, hiring the ones who are highly productive and also share a cultural fit with the company. To find a candidate with the right characteristics for the job, the company organizes comprehensive training programs in the countries it operates. Preference is given to young minds who are in their final year of undergrad studies or B-schools in order to build a better company with their fresh ideas.

Incentive Pay

AB InBev follows an aggressive cost cutting culture and expects a certain level of performance from the employees. Meritocracy is one of the key values followed and the recent success can be contributed towards it. The company pays less base salary to its salesperson but almost double the incentives as compared to industry standards. Thus an effective organizational culture gets promoted as employees are self motivated to achieve long term goals of the company.

Promotion from within

All senior management position in AB InBev are taken up by internal employees, making the succession plan very lucrative for the hard working employees. Employees are not only provided with extrinsic motivation while experiencing decentralization of power, participation and delegation. Since at any point in time, 20% of the managers are from among the mobile and actively pursuing employees. This helps reduce costs and saves time as there is minimal need to re-train them.

Growth Strategy

Following are the key characteristics of their Business Model:

There are several key characteristics that describe AB InBev's global strategy:

Cost Reduction

While acquiring companies, AB InBev has been able to use distribution channels in existing target markets, thereby minimizing infrastructure costs. The firm employs an aggressive budgeting strategy simultaneously maintaining a very lean organizations, to further reduce the costs. AB InBev has a global supply chain function, via which it manages the acquisition of every component in the supply from a central system. Given the size at which it operates, it can establish long-term agreements with suppliers at lower prices for all the business facilities across the globe.

Capturing value

Presence in multiple markets, increases customer's willingness-to-pay primarily by leveraging the brand equity of various global brands to its advantage. An apt example on this is the sale of the Stella Artois beverage, a beer with European origins, in Brazil.  Inspite of the fact that the beer is currently produced in Brazil, it sell for a premium price in the Brazilian market. It cashes on the Brazilians' perception of ‘Stella Artois' as a premium offering with European roots.

Improving Industry Attractiveness

Increased regional competition has enabled AB InBev's successful growth in industry relatively more attractive to outsiders. This is evident by the recent increase in craft beer companies that started in the early 2000's.

Product Diversification

A very diversified portfolio of product also helps Ab InBev reduce its risk. The multiple brands in AB InBev's product portfolio enables it to optimally manage costs and maximize profit. And in the sight of this, the negative impact of acquiring a company during times of low profitability in the beer market has effectively been immaterial.

Following are the key characteristics of their Operation Model:

Human Capital Strategy (Dream-People-Culture)

At the core of it's management style is its renowned human capital practices. These practices are built upon the principle of “Dream-People-Culture” platform. Via this, they recognize people as the most important resource in the organization. As a result, it has been significantly able to acquire, grow and retain some of the best talents in the world. The company has been able to develop and promote employees because of its acquisition strategy continuously – employees assume new leadership positions at these acquired companies, resulting into better motivation level of employees.

Marketing Campaign

To enable itself to dictate the price, AB InBev utilizes aggressive marketing campaigns. The marketing campaigns help drive the required sales volumes of AB InBev's products – and hence leading to increased pressure on the margins of AB Inbev's competitors. And a result of this, the financial health of AB InBev becomes bad hence it look for active acquisitions.

Knowledge Localization –AB InBev seeks to leverage the local talent while being in the acquisition integrating phase, however, this is not the primary focus of their strategy. AB InBev belives in infusing its traditional ideologies into its target companies and as a result of this, they only hires local individuals who share similar values. As a result of this, AB InBev's acquisition strategy has never been adaptable to the target companies' frameworks and management styles. By reallocating resource and sourcing local talent, AB InBev has been able to ensure that its culture is properly instituted and infused within the target company. The company strongly believes in its ability to find people who fit its culture in every market they are present. It can be rightly stated that the company\'s business practices are dynamic, but the culture is omnipresent.

ABInBev's success can be credited to three key pillars of its overall strategy:

• Operating cost being on lower side

• High investment in sales & marketing

• Leveraging synergies between all global units to optimize costs and revenue

Water Stewardship

AB InBev has been thinking outside its operational walls. One of its major step in this direction involves, engaging with its agriculture supply chain.  To build sustainable management systems in various watershed, the company has been collaborating with environmental NGOs and public entities.

In Brazil's drought affected Jaguariúna region, which supplies water to the greater Sao Paulo, it joined hands with the Nature Conservancy (TNC) and various public-sector entities such as the Jaguariuna Bureau of the Environment (JBE) and the Brazilian National Water Agency (BNWA) and others in a watershed restoration program. This collaboration aims to use large-scale green available infrastructure to secure a clean and constant water supply for all stakeholders in the Jaguari and Jundiai watersheds. This also includes elements of soil conservation technique and reforestation.

Smart Barley program

AB InBev has partnered with growers globally to produce high-quality malt barley. Through 2015, more than 3 200 growers have participated in SmartBarley, a program which is also being utilized to compare their crop performance against advanced productivity. Metrics being measured and compared also includes, key environmental performance metrics from similar growers and global benchmarks. The information within SmartBarley also helps the local teams identify the most pressing challenges being faced by the growers at large. This is helping direct their portfolio of initiatives to address those challenges which have the grave infuence on grower productivity, resource use efficiency and profitability. In 2015, the SmartBarley program comprised 18 local, regional and global initiatives, ranging across information technology, field technology and crop management innovations. The aim of the SmartBarley is to deliver unique value to the barley growers and their supply chain, globally, including upholding their shared responsibility to improve natural resource use efficiency in agriculture. The program is helping drive their commitment of reducing water risks and enhancing water management in 100% of key barley producing regions by the end of 2017.

Global Smart Drinking Goal

• Reduction of the harmful use of alcohol by at least 10% in six cities by 2020 and implementation of the best practices globally by end 2025

• Investing at least 1 billion USD across markets to influence social norms and individual behaviors to reduce harmful alcohol use. This includes various social marketing campaigns and related programs by end 2025

• Increase alcohol health literacy by end 2025 and place a guidance label on all of the beer products in all of the operational markets by end 2020

There had been 3 major principles of the acquisitions that have been done by AB InBev till date:

1. Absorption and rationalisation.

Following has been the integration formula which its leadership has been exercising since two decades: efficiency and optimisation, cost reduction & instilling a meritocratic culture based of measuring performance and reduction of executive privileges to more and more maximize the shareholder value. The nature of the company's shareholders partly reflect the he nature of its M&A integration model. The beer giant is partly controlled by, a private equity fund, 3G Capital, managed by Brazilian investors. This type of governance facilitates the systematic implementation of \"consolidation\" based acquisitions.

2. \"One firm, one culture.\"

There have been ten guidelines which have significantly reinforced the AB InBev's strong corporate culture. Among these unifying principles are meritocracy, integrity, zero complacency, ownership to society and tight cost management. And this culture has been very deeply imbibed in all the companies which come under its banner.

3. Implementation without compromise.

Often post-acquisition integration provides lots of challenges which results into a number of compromises that a company has to go through. These include balancing cost mitigation and maintaining income, managing the rationalization of brands and simultaneously maintaining local micro-brands. This also includes, juggling individual business performance and sustainability of the local community. For InBev, post-merger integration has been practiced so much so that it has now become a science that is implemented with no reservations, regardless of the consequences. Be it the removal of local iconic brands, be it massive layoffs (in particular the redundancies that Anheuser Buch made just before Christmas), or be it the rationalisation of suppliers at the expense of the local ecosystem's development.

Financial Analysis

As discussed in the preceding texts, ABInBev is one of the leading global brewing companies of the world, if not the leader. The financials of the company are no different. With a sale of 500 million hectolitres and a revenue of USD 45 billion in 2016, the company has an EBITDA of USD 16.7 billion, down marginally from USD 16.8 billion at a similar point of time in 2015.

The stocks of ABInBev are listed on tickers of USA (NYSE-BUD), Mexico (MEXBOL- ABI), South Africa (JSE-ABE) and Euronext TradeSupport. The stock is currently traded at USD110 per share at NYSE, a rise of nearly 50% over the previous five years.

The year 2016 had been relatively challenging for the company especially in its home markets of Latin America but the results have been positive with the acquisition of SABMiller. The merger cum acquisition with SABMiller was closed on October 10, 2016 with a deal of nearly USD 100 Billion.

The financial results from all the markets have been solid except a weak performance in Brazil. The total revenue increased by 2.4% yoy. A final dividend of Euro 2 per share was proposed thus bringing the total for FY2016 to Euro 3.6 per share.

Even the individual brand of the company grew by great margins. While Budweiser grew by 2.8% and Stella by 6.3%, Corona managed to outperform both and grew by a whopping 14.3% worldwide.

Going region wise, North America saw a slight dip in volume sales but the EBITDA margin grew by 2% yoy. Mexico and Colombia proved to be the ideal home ground for the company as it saw a rise in sale volume by 6% and EBITDA margin by 5.6% over FY2015. Brazil managed to even out the positive trend in Mexico and Colombia by a negative downturn. Sales volume decreased by 5.9% and EBITDA margin fell by a whopping 16.7%.

The EPS of the company fell from $5.20 to $2.83 in FY2016, a decrease of nearly 50% but this can primarily be attributed to ABInBev's merger with SABMiller and its associated implications.

The lower EPS can also be attributed a higher Effective Tax Rate (up from 19.1% to 20.9%). The figure is expected to increase even further and settle within a range of 24-26% for FY2017 due to a change in the profit mix of the company because of the merger (as incremental revenues are taxed at the full rate).

The Working Capital of the company has also been continuously decreasing over the past years (2008-2016) and is expected to reduce even further thus signalling positive financials and reduced investments for the company.

The merger with SABMiller is further expected to boost the financials of the company because of greater market share and even greater in worldwide sales. The revenue of the combined company reaches an astonishing $64 billion with an EBITDA margin of $24.2 billion (2015 figures). The merger has put ABInBev at the joint 4th position in terms of revenue in the Consumer Goods category next only to Nestle, P&G and PepsiCo. The merger also pushes the company to the top in EBITDA margins in the same category. With the merger ABInBev would also look for a secondary listing on JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) to further strengthen its position.

Thus, North and Latin America continue to be the areas of significant interest for the company in the years to come. Another region that is sure to grab limelight in terms of emerging markets for the company is the African continent as SABMiller has a stronghold in the African continent. The financials of 2017 and future years would surely have an African impact on the balance sheets and cash flows.

The Road Ahead

ABInBev is seeing promising growth opportunities in emerging markets like Latin America and Africa. Recently company also started to focusing on craft beer and giving a makeover to major regional brands to cater to different taste and preferences of consumers. One of the core strategies of ABInBev is continued acquisition of regional brands and consolidation of highly fragmented beer market. In some cases it has to divest some of the joint company\'s assets in order to gain working capital as well approval for the merger via regulatory authorities. This also keeps a check on non-profit making assets, while still commanding market share in many regions of the world.

As part of ‘Smart Drinking Campaign', ABInBev continues to promote low alcohol and no alcohol beer thus tapping into restrictive markets. It should also diversify its assets in newer markets like middle east where 0% alcohol beer could be a game changer. In addition to improving brand image, this also helps in consumption by huge volume as well as revenue as untapped markets are high income economies.

Due to the increasing global footprint of ABInBev, they need to have a focus strategy for brand promotions across market which should not be conflicting with interests of their regional champion brands. Also to minimise media buying cost, they need to play on economy of scale by outsourcing the planning and execution to a global media firm with expertise in handling marketing communication in diverse markets.

One of the most recent development in product development in ABInBev is to target the hugely neglected female audience. This is being tackled via introduction of women focused light beers under the brand RITA in US and European union. Furthermore, innovation in products such as craft beer via introduction of sources of raw material other than barley in matured markets such as Belgium etc.

References

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2. http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/the-work/advertiser/ab-inbev/10717

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7. http://www.ab-inbev.com/content/dam/universaltemplate/ab-inbev/investors/reports-and-filings/annual-and-hy-reports/2017/03/AB%20InBev%20Annual%20Report%202016%20-%20Financial%20report.pdf

8. http://www.ab-inbev.com/content/dam/universaltemplate/ab-inbev/investors/sabmiller/reports/annual-reports/annual-report-2016.pdf

9. https://rctom.hbs.org/submission/anheuser-busch-inbev-ab-inbev-the-winning-formula

10. http://knowledge.insead.edu/blog/insead-blog/ab-inbevs-acquisition-formula-4457

11. http://www.ab-inbev.com/content/dam/universaltemplate/abinbev/pdf/sr/global-citizenship-report/cultivatingwaterstewardship.pdf

12. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/when-beer-and-water-mix-abinbev-teams-conservation

13. http://www.ab-inbev.com/content/dam/universaltemplate/abinbev/pdf/sr/global-citizenship-report/growingasustainablefuturewithsmartbarley.pdf

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