AB InBev sells stake in Amarula owner Distell

AB InBev is selling their stake in Distell Group, Africa’s leading producer and marketer of spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drinks to Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which is acting on behalf of South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund. Distell is known for brands like Amarula liquor and Klipdrift brandy.

The transaction is part of regulations set forth by South-African antitrust authority for approval for AB InBev’s take-over of rival SABMiller. The commission had initially given AB InBev a three-year timeframe to offload the 26.4 percent stake but Distell itself recommended a quicker move to avoid uncertainties in the market.

Johann Rupert (66), chairman of investment holding company Remgro Ltd., which owns indirectly 30.65% in Distell through a 53% share of Remgro-Capevin Investments Proprietary, was also interested in buying out AB InBev. Last week, Rupert told investors at a conference that Remgro’s board would determine whether to exercise its preemptive right based on the offers for Distell.

Given the reported sales price of roughly 9 billion rand ($645 million) and AB InBev’s statement, that Remgro  and Capevin Holdings would not exercise their pre-emptive rights, it looks like the deal was not profitable enough for the South-African born investor, who lives in Zug/Switzerland and is listed as one of the richest people in Africa and Switzerland.

Johann Rupert is also chairman of Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, the second largest luxury goods company in the world with brands like Cartier, Jaeger-Le Coultre, Van Cleef & Arpels, Montblanc and A. Lange & Söhne in which his own company Compagnie Financière Rupert holds 9.1% of the equity and 50% of the voting rights.

Johann Rupert inherited the base of his wealth from his father Anton Rupert, who made his fortune with his own tobacco company named Rembrandt Ltd. Rembrandt was also the cornerstone of whichlater became the Richmont group. Johann Rupert revealed last week that “the dumbest deal my dad did in his life was to get out of breweries”. In 1979 he sold his Rembrandt's Intercontinental Breweries to South African Breweries (SAB) in order to protect wine farmers, who were his major shareholders by that time. SAB in turn was the predecessor of SABMiller, a company which evolved through several mergers and acquisitions as the second largest brewing company in the world, and which was was this year taken over by ABInbBev.

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