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Anheuser increases stake in Tsingtao.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. and Chinese beer maker Tsingtao Brewery Co. have closed an agreement that calls for The St. Louis-based brewery's ownership in Tsingtao to increase to 27 percent, AnheuserBusch officials said Thursday.

The deal between Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewery, and Tsingtao, China's largest brewery, was announced in October. It calls for Anheuser-Busch to raise its 4.5 percent interest to 9.9 percent initially and to 27 percent over seven years, at a cost of about $182 million.

Anheuser-Busch had held its previous stake in Tsingtao since 1993.

At the closing, Anheuser-Busch paid SI 16.4 million. It will pay the additional $65.2 million within 12 months. The money will be used to improve Tsingtao's brewing assets, construct new facilities and make future acquisitions.

With the transaction, Anheuser-Busch will have representation on the Tsingtao board, supervisory board and key board committees, Anheuser-Busch officials said.

The Chinese government will remain the largest shareholder in Tsingtao, holding a 30.56 percent share after all bonds are converted. Anheuser-Busch will be the largest non-government shareholder.

China's beer market is believed by some to be the largest in the world, Anheuser-Busch officials said. It has been growing annually at 6 percent.

Tsingtao based in the city of Qingdao, holds a 12.8 percent share of the China market. Its flagship brand is Tsingtao, the No. 1 beer brand in China that is also sold in more than 40 other countries.

Budweiser is the world's best-selling beer and Bud Light the top-selling light beer. Anheuser-Busch had net sales of $13.57 billion last year. Budweiser is the leading international beer sold in China.

Anheuser-Busch also owns 98 percent of the Budweiser Wuhan International Brewing Co. in Wuhan, China, where its Budweiser and Bud Ice brands are brewed.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Apr 14, 2003
Words:295
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