June 1, 2002
How do you sell your company in the depths of the worst economic crisis in your country's history and still hope to get a decent price? The owners of Quilmes, Argentina's biggest brewer, seem to have achieved this feat when they agreed to sell out to Brazil's AmBev, one of the world's five largest drinks companies, in an ingenious two-step deal.
In May, AmBev and Quilmes announced a "strategic alliance," that in reality, was the first major acquisition of an Argentine company by a foreign competitor since the country's disastrous default and devaluation six months ago. The Brazilians are unmistakably in the driving seat, but have retained the management at Quilmes.
Despite Argentina's dire straits, the country's largest brewer managed to get a pledge from its Brazilian competitor to buy it out at a future date and price.