Belgium: AB InBev to unexpectedly replace chairman of the board

AB InBev’s Chairman of the Board Olivier Goudet will resign at AB InBev’s shareholder meeting on April 24. According to information of The Financial Times, Goudet is departing because of concerns of a conflict of interest. The 55-year old French manager is partner and CEO of Luxemburg-based JAB Holding Company which is majority owned by the billionaire Reimann family.

Last year it became known that the secretive German family is buying Dr Pepper Snapple for USD18.7 billion and that the soda company will be merged with Keurig Green Mountain, a U.S. based specialty coffee and coffeemaker company that JAB acquired the year before in a deal worth USD13.9bn. The new company which is called Keurig Dr Pepper combines sales of about USD11 billion and is controlled by JAB Holding Company (, 29.1.2018).

Through Goudet’s close ties with both companies, Keurig and AB InBev formed two years ago a joint venture called Drinkworks to develop a pod-based cocktail machine that works similarly to Nestle’s Nespresso coffee maker and that debuted in November last year (, 15.11.2018).

However, especially the soft drink interests of Keurig Dr Pepper with brands like Dr. Pepper7UPSnapple and Bai but also JAB’s dominance in the coffee market with brands like Green Mountain Coffee, Tully's-Coffee, Van Houtte, Jacobs, Douwe Egberts, Senseo and Tassimo is increasingly conflicting with AB InBev’s business.

Since margins in the traditional beer business are shrinking and craft beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks and coffee are attacking AB InBev’s core business from all sides, the beer giant is aiming to shift its focus and started diversifying its product portfolio. The company has in the last years expanded its range of Beyond Beer products and acquired several companies and products outside the traditional business field. (, 1.3.2019)

“I can confirm that I have decided to step down from my position on the board of AB InBev in order to devote more time to my growing responsibilities as Managing Partner and CEO of JAB Holding Co,” Goudet said in a statement that was published by Reuters.

AB InBev spread on Tuesday a message saying, “The board’s succession plan has been developed since last year and we have been working with Mr Goudet on a smooth transition. His successor, along with new members of our board, will be announced in due course in the context of our annual shareholders meeting.”

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