Quenching Corporate Thirst
A 123-year-old Peruvian brewer has become the prize in
a fight to dominate the region's beer market. The battle involves some of South America's most powerful families.
Early in July, when the air was thick with rumors that
Bavaria, Colombia's largest beer company, was about to buy a
major stake in Peru's dominant brewer, Backus&Johnston,
Steven Bandel, president of Venezuela's Cisneros Group, decided
it was time to make a move. Backus is one of the few
independent brewers left in the rapidly consolidating South
American beer market and its monopoly status in its home market
makes it extremely profitable and an attractive takeover
target. In 1999, Cisneros had lost to Backus in a bid for a
smaller Peruvian competitor, and since early 2002 the
Venezuelan group had been eyeing Backus itself. Cisneros's
archenemy, Empresas Polar de Venezuela, already had a minority
share in Backus. Bavaria's pending purchase meant that two of
Cisneros's biggest competitors in Latin America would take
control of Backus and secure a stronghold from which to
dominate the Andean region. ...
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