AB InBev reorganizes board; appoints new board chairman, others

Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced the appointment of Martin Barrington as its new board chairman. Mr Barrington, a former chief executive officer of cigarette maker Altria Group, a major shareholder of AB InBev with 10.2% stake, has been on the company’s board since 2016.

Barrington replaces Olivier Goudet, CEO and managing partner at Investment Company JAB Holdings, whose recent activities in the beverage and restaurant industries has created a conflict of interest for him. JAB Holdings, which is controlled by the Reimann family of Germany has been buying up assets including Caribou Coffee, Panera Bread and Pret A Manger.

The appointment is subject to shareholder’s approval at the next meeting on April 24.

Barrington retired from the Marlboro maker, Altria after six years as CEO.

The changes will also see Alexandre Behring and Carlos Alberto da Veiga Sicupira, 3G Capital managing partners leave the board. Veiga Sicupira, a Brazilian billionaire and one of the founders of 3G Capital, will be replaced by his daughter Cecilia Sicupira. 3G Capital holds 43% majority interest in AB InBev.

Stéfan Descheemaeker, CEO of Nomad Foods and a board member representing the interest of Belgian families will also depart, to be replaced by Sabine Chalmers, chief legal officer at AB InBev for over a decade and now general counsel at the UK telecoms group BT.

Mr Goudet’s seat as an independent director will be filled by Xiaozhi Liu, an automobile industry executive from China.

According to people familiar with the matter, the shake-up is meant to signal to shareholders that the brewer’s board is determined to reverse a sliding share price which has seen the brewer’s shares decline by 35% to €74.30, from €114 in 2016, when AB InBev acquired SABMiller. The company is also struggling to pay down over $100bn in debt racked up from the acquisition amid slowing demand in the United States, its largest market.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) was formed as a result of a series of acquisitions starting in 1999 when two Brazilian breweries, Brahma and Antartica merged to form AmBev. This was followed by the merger of AmBev and InterBrew, a Belgian brewing company in 2004 to form InBev. Anheuser-Busch, the American brewing company was acquired by InBev in 2008 to form Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewing company.

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