The Killer Instinct

Apr 29, 2004

Three buccaneers have made a fortune by handing over Brazil's AmBev to Belgium's Interbrew, but few other shareholders profited much from the deal.

The transaction linking AmBev with Interbrew is the culmination of a lifetime of dealmaking for Marcel Telles, the ferociously competitive Brazilian wheeler and dealer. While the deal has made him and two partners - Jorge Paulo Lemann and Carlos Alberto Sucupira - into billionaires, it is a blow for Latin America's sickly equity markets and a setback in the struggle to improve the region's dire corporate governance standards.


Their decision to sell the company they spent nearly 15 years building into the world's fifth-largest brewer was a complete surprise to shareholders. Even more astonishing were the terms of the deal, which appropriated the entire control premium for holders of voting stock -principally Telles, Lemann and Sucupira -and left the majority of shareholders who own non-voting stock out in the cold. The three men are arrogant, aggressive and widely feared in Brazil and abroad. Yet São Paulo's business community also...

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