Any doubts that life under AB InBev was going to be totally unlike life under SABMiller were spectacularly put to rest last week when the former announced the team to lead the merged entity.
There was not one SABMiller veteran on the list. The exclusion of Mark Bowman, SABMiller’s top man in Africa, shocked all the analysts. The message was loud and clear: AB InBev’s tough centralised cost-cutting management style will dominate the post-merger integration process. As part of that process AB InBev, headed by Carlos Brito, has undertaken to extract US$1.4bn in annual cost savings by 2020.
No doubt SABMiller’s SA employees spent much of the weekend studying the conditions attached to the competition tribunal’s approval to determine just how well economic development minister Ebrahim Patel had protected their jobs.
The locals were spared the dramatic headlines that faced some of their European counterparts last week. "British staff betrayed in yet another foreign deal," screamed the Daily Mail headline. It went on to discuss the "disgusting U-turn" AB InBev had made on a pledge to save British jobs. The latest plan will see all the back-office jobs that were done out of Woking (just outside London) moved to Belgium, where AB InBev has its global headquarters. In what may have been a desperate bid to drag the new Conservative leadership into the fray, the Daily Mail said the U-turn was reminiscent of the takeover of Cadbury by US giant Kraft.
"Just days after this deal was completed in 2010, Kraft announced Cadbury’s UK factory in Keynsham, near Bristol, would shut despite previous promises to keep it open."
3G Capital, which acquired Kraft a year ago, is the controlling shareholder in AB InBev.
The closest SAB came to featuring on the Mega-Brew management list was the inclusion of Mauricio Leyva, who will be zone president of Middle Americas.