AB InBev raises merger savings target to $2.8 billion

The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is pictured outside the brewer's headquarters in Leuven, Belgium February 25, 2016.
Yves Herman | Reuters

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, on Thursday raised its forecast for savings and benefits from its SABMiller takeover to $2.8 billion from $2.45 billion after reporting weaker than expected earnings due to a beer sales slump in Brazil.

The company, now more than double the size of nearest rival Heineken, said the new target included $1.05 billion that SABMiller had announced before the $100 billion merger.

The brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, which makes more than a quarter of the world's beer, said it had already captured $829 million of savings. The balance of about $2 billion would come in the next three to four years.

The company highlighted difficulties it is facing in its second largest market Brazil, which is struggling to emerge from a two-year recession, with both lower sales and increased costs due to the weaker real.

Last month, Heineken agreed to buy the loss-making breweries in Brazil of Japanese company Kirin Holdings Co Ltd .

Core profit (EBITDA) fell 3.6 percent on a like-for-like basis and excluding currency impact in the fourth quarter to $5.25 billion, well below the $5.58 billion expected in a Reuters poll of eight analysts.

Excluding Brazil, AB InBev said its core profit in the fourth quarter would have risen 6.4 percent. For the year as a whole, its beer sales would have fallen by 0.1 percent, rather than the 1.4 percent decline reported.

AB InBev beer sales also declined in North America and Europe in the final quarter, but profits grew due to more expensive brands being sold, while Chinese earnings slipped.

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