AB InBev warns of €1bn hit from Russian venture exit

Belgian brewer in talks with Turkish company

Belgian brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev is in discussions to sell its stake in a Russian joint venture to its Turkish partner in a transaction that could mean a $1.1 billion (€1 billion) hit for the world's largest drinks group.

The maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona is seeking to sell its non-controlling interest in joint venture AB InBev Efes to Anadolu Efes, which global rating agency Fitch downgraded last month.

Fitch cited a “challenging macroeconomic environment in the company’s two largest markets of Turkey and Russia as well as in Ukraine” as a reason for the downgrade.

As part of the deal, the Belgian brewer has asked that the sale of Budweiser, one of its best-known beer brands, be suspended in Russia, it said on Friday. The group said it would take a $1.1bn non-cash impairment charge as a result of the sale.

Decision

The brewer’s decision to withdraw from Russian markets comes as multiple western brands have left the country in protest against Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine or because of the resulting sanctions and supply chain disruptions. The move to sell its stake to a Turkish company is unusual because of the Turkish government’s ties with Russia.

Turkey, a Nato member that has forged close relations with Moscow and Kyiv in recent years, has condemned the Russian invasion and has supplied the Ukrainian military with armed drones.

But Ankara has also sought to maintain what it calls a “balanced” stance in the conflict, to avoid damaging its economic, energy and defence ties with Russia.

Turkish officials have stated repeatedly that they will not sign up to western sanctions packages against Moscow. Some Turkish businesses and executives have said that they view the withdrawal of western companies from Russia as an opportunity for their country.

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