Anheuser-Busch on Friday said Grupo Modelo CEO Carlos Fernandez resigned from the company’s board of directors, signaling the loss of a potential key ally in the U.S. brewer’s fight to fend off an unsolicited takeover bid from InBev in Belgium, Reuters news service reported.
Anheuser owns 50% of Modelo, the No. 1 brewer in Mexico. The St. Louis, Mo.-based brewer is currently weighing a $46.3 billion takeover proposal from Belgian brewer InBev, which this week sent a follow-up letter to its initial takeover proposal, reiterating its interest in Anheuser.
Modelo’s brands include Corona and Negra Modelo, and the company is emerging as a critical broker in the battle for the control of Anheuser. Modelo is being courted by Anheuser about a possible combination that would help it thwart the InBev bid, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Ann Gilpin, an analyst with Morningstar, said she believes Fernandez’s interests lie first with Modelo, which is controlled by his family, and secondly with Anheuser-Busch, Reuters reported.
In other business, Anheuser-Busch announced the purchase of a remaining 50% ownership in the Crown Beers India Ltd. joint venture from its partner, Crown International. The acquisition includes the joint venture’s 500,000-hectoliter brewery in the southern city of Hyderabad.
"The Indian beer industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, and acquiring the remaining 50% of the Crown Beers joint venture reaffirms Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to being a key player in this emerging beer market," said Tom Santel, president and CEO at Anheuser-Busch International Inc.
Crown International and Anheuser-Busch formed Crown Beers India Ltd. in early 2007. The joint venture successfully introduced the Budweiser brand and Armstrong throughout southern and western India.