BELGIUM – Michel Doukeris, president of the AB InBev’s North America business, has been unveiled as the CEO designate, to take over from Carlos Brito who has been at the helm of the company for 15 years.
Carlos Brito has been credited as the man behind Anheuser-Busch InBev transformation into the world’s largest brewer through a series of high-profile deals.
Brito, a 60-year-old Brazilian, has worked with AB InBev for over 32 years and he oversaw the integration of U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch with the Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate InBev.
More recently, he engineered the US$100 billion plus takeover of rival SABMiller in 2016, which left the company saddled with a heavy debt load.
Doukeris, his successor, joined AB InBev in 1996 and rose through the ranks to head up the brewer’s business in both China and Asia-Pacific, before taking the helm of the North American division, which contributes almost a third of group sales.
The news was welcomed by analysts, with the equity research team at Citi saying that they see the change of leadership and “associated smooth succession” as a strategic positive for the stock over the medium term.
Doukeris positive reception was reflected in the market with investors sending AB InBev shares up more than 4.63% in early European trading.
A bounce back from pandemic
Separately, AB InBev has reported first-quarter earnings ahead of expectations, despite Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdowns closing bars and restaurants across several key markets, including Europe, and a one-month ban on the sale of alcohol in South Africa.
Revenues grew 17.2% to US$12.3 billion, on a 13.3% increase in beer volumes sold, as consumers returned to drinking and socializing following the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
The company recorded a profit of US$595 million in the quarter, up from a loss of US$2.25 billion for the same period in 2020.
Meanwhile, underlying attributable profit was US$1.1 billion, up more than 8% year-over-year.
China was critical to the company’s impressive profits. The company’s revenue in the Asian country grew more than 90%, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
This impressive performance from china lifted the company’s revenues even as the pandemic-stricken Europe recorded flat beer sales.
AB InBev said it delivered top- and bottom-line growth in the U.S., as it continues to refocus on faster-growing core segments.
“Our business is off to a very strong start in 2021,” Brito said during the release of Q1 results.
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