IOGT International Press Release: New beer behemoth a serious threat to global health and sustainable development
Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, the two biggest beer producers in the world, have agreed on terms for a gigantic deal to merge both companies. The merger is set to create a beer behemoth responsible for one in three beers sold worldwide.
The final AB InBev offer is worth more than $110 billion. Key actor in the deal making and major profiteer is the tobacco industry giant Altria, which is SABMiller’s biggest shareholder, owning a 27% stake. Altria, the manufacturer of Marlboro cigarettes and formerly known as Philip Morris Companies, is predicted to receive seats on the board of directors of the new beer behemoth.
The Financial Times reports that if completed, the deal — including debt — would be the third largest M&A transaction in history, overtaking AOL’s purchase of Time Warner in 2000.
This deal has to be viewed as a major threat to global health and sustainable development
The merger marks another aggressive step by Big Alcohol to target emerging markets in Africa and Asia.
The troika of two Big Alcohol giants plus the Big Tobacco giant Altria spells trouble for people in developing countries and for the newly adopted Agenda2030,” cautions Kristina Sperkova, President of IOGT International, the premier global network for evidence-based policy measures and community-based interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol harm.
The track record of Big Tobacco is well documented and well know. And AB InBev and SABMiller have each similarly scary track records of unethical practices putting profit over Human Rights,” says Ms. Sperkova.
Alcohol kills 3.3 million people worldwide, every year. It is the fifth leading cause of death and disability worldwide and a major risk factor for global epidemics of gender-based violence, infectious diseases like HIV/ AIDS and tuberculosis as well as for non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
For example, ActionAid has exposed SABMiller for its unethical tax schemes in Sub-Saharan Africa. ActionAid estimates that SABMiller’s tax dodging schemes may have lost governments in developing countries as much as $30 million, which is enough to put a quarter of a million children in school.
SABMiller has also been exposed to employ aggressive tactics in lobbying against a public health bill to ban alcohol advertising in South Africa.
AB InBev is under investigation by tax authorities in Europe for a tax agreement that ”allowed” AB InBev to transfer 140 million euros of profit from around the world over three years to a Belgian company that exists only on paper.
AB InBev is also infamous for its love affair with corruption-riddled Fifa, football’s world governing body. Budweiser, an AB InBev product, is a long-time sponsor of the Fifa World Cup. In aggressive lobbying, Fifa and AB InBev forced Brazil to abandon legislation to prevent and reduce alcohol-related violence around football matches, only to allow alcohol being sold inside World Cup stadiums.
Just last month, world leaders have agreed 17 visionary Sustainable Development Goals,” explains Ms. Sperkova.
Alcohol is an obstacle to achieving 11 out of those 17 new SDGs and the alcohol industry poses paramount obstacles to achieving these goals.”
This blockbuster deal continues the trend of market concentration in the alcohol industry and signals aggressive tactics in the coming months and years to make it profitable for a few top executives and shareholders, while millions of people, families and communities will suffer from harm caused by the alcohol industry.