Carlos Brito brews the second act after working at AB InBev for 30 years


Carlos Brito from Anheuser-Busch InBev At 61 this week, he is already planning a long second act. “Brito 2.0” may take another 25 years, said the Brazilian businessman who has worked in the brewery for 30 years.

“My dad… he was a vascular surgeon until he was 86 years old… I still have 25 years, at least 25 years,” he said.

Brito built Anheuser-Busch InBev from a Latin American company into the world’s largest brewing company so far. Its brands include Budweiser and Stella Artois.

But his last few years were overshadowed by his biggest and most controversial deal, the acquisition of competitor SABMiller for 79 billion pounds in 2016.Anheuser-Busch InBev’s stock price is more than 45% lower than the stock price when the transaction is completed, and it is still saddled with $83 billion debt.

Anheuser-Busch InBev’s aggressive deal defined an era of integration and consolidated the dominant position of a handful of global beer manufacturers.Brito leave the company -And the industry-began to change when he joined the then Brahma in 1989.

Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling called him “one of the three giants shaping the modern brewing industry”, and the former Heineken CEO Jean-François Van · Boxmeer (Jean-François van Boxmeer) and the late SABMiller leader Graham Mackay (Graham Mackay) side by side.

In many ways, the Wall Street view BritoHis legacy is consistent with that of the previous CEO. “We started with a country in Latin America and a country in Europe, and we established a global brewery… one of the top three CPGs [consumer packaged goods] The most profitable company in the world,” he said.

“He obviously created a lot of value for shareholders,” Sterling agreed.

As Anheuser-Busch InBev rebounded from the worst period of the pandemic-its report was much better than expected First quarter results — Brito has given the reins to Michel Doukeris, a 25-year company veteran who is known for brand building and digital sales.

“He is very capable; he is better than me,” Brito said, citing the achievements of his successor in Mexico, Brazil, China and the United States.

Doukeris’ career path reflects the development of AB InBev into a truly global company, and Brito believes that this would not have happened without the SABMiller deal. “This is the right approach,” he said, for a brewer who “not only considers the next few years, but also the next 50 or 100 years.”

But he admitted that Covid-19 delayed AB InBev’s debt reduction plan for about two years, and he was more willing to emphasize the hostile takeover of AB InBev in 2008.

This offer was made before the outbreak of the global financial crisis. “We need 10 banks to come up with billions of dollars before the deadline, and some banks are disappearing every day,” he recalled. But once Anheuser-Busch InBev obtained this financing, “we never looked back.”

Brito acknowledged that the era of brewing huge deals is over, but small deals are still going on. Analysts said this puts more pressure on AB InBev to build its brand and grow organically, although its scale does not always contribute to its agility.

An example is hard soda, this flavored alcoholic soda has taken the American beverage market by storm. In 2016, AB InBev acquired the pioneering brand SpikedSeltzer, which was surpassed by new competitors White Claw and Truly; Bernstein said that although it has increased its market share this year, it still lags behind these brands.

“I think sometimes, maybe, we need longer time to accept some changes,” Brito admits, because the company’s size makes it cautious about cannibalizing its huge existing profit drivers.

Without acknowledging that the American beer market is declining, he predicts that the importance of non-beer products such as hard soda will increase. “People call it the fourth category, which is the obscuration of beer, wine, and spirits… Hazards[s] Part of the existing categories, legacy categories. “

During Brito’s rule, expectations of the CEO evolved as rapidly as drinking habits, but he stated that Anheuser-Busch InBev would not become a “radical company” and campaign on issues outside of its core mandate. .

“The biggest challenge today [is] People think that the CEO and the company need to have an opinion on everything,” he exclaimed.

Investors’ new focus on the environment, society and governance or ESG may not be consistent with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s embrace of zero-based budgets. However, Brito described a system supported by 3G Capital, in which each cost must be re-justified in each budget cycle because it is a contribution to a more environmentally friendly company.

“Everyone… I hope the company manages waste so that we minimize the impact on the planet. So, suddenly, efficiency has become a cool thing,” he said.

Companies now need to understand that their community “only allows you to exist if you are involved in the solution,” he said: “When you are portrayed as part of the problem, they won’t kill you, but they’ll monitor You, tax you and restrict your business.”

Brito urged governments not to increase taxes on companies like him to pay for their Covid-19 expenses, but to impose the burden on companies that profit from the pandemic.

He said: “When they raise taxes to pay for Covid incentives and other expenses, they should chase companies that need to share their wealth because their consumers are pushed towards them.” Some companies’ market value has increased by two or four times. Times: “We don’t have one.”

Brito has not yet decided on his next move, but he does not rule out the possibility of becoming another CEO, or working with his mentor and 3G co-founder Jorge Paulo Lemann, who funded his education and hired him in his 20s He is engaged in banking.

The call that Brito received after announcing his departure indicated that he would have “many options”, and he said he plans to return them in July and August.

But he has no doubt that this is the right time to abandon the company he has shaped. “We must pass the baton to the new generation, otherwise they will go elsewhere,” he said. “If the CEO stays forever, the machine won’t work.”



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