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Diageo Tops Rivals to Buy Ethiopian Brewer for $225 Million, Agency Says

Diageo Plc (DGE), the world’s largest distiller, agreed to buy Ethiopia’s state-owned Meta Abo Brewery for $225 million after outbidding SABMiller Plc (SAB) and Heineken NV. (HEIA)

Diageo, which makes Guinness stout, will expand Meta Abo and introduce new products, Wondafrash Assefa, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s Private and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency, said today by phone from Addis Ababa. SABMiller, the world’s second-biggest brewer by volume, bid $190 million for the asset, and Heineken offered $188 million, he said.

Nigel Fairbrass, a spokesman for SABMiller, confirmed that the brewer had bid for the asset. A spokesman for Heineken declined to comment.

Diageo, the London-based maker of spirits including Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, is among consumer-goods companies seeking sales growth in emerging markets to offset weaker demand in western Europe and the U.S. Africa is attractive as consumers have increasing disposable income, Nick Blazquez, head of Diageo’s Africa unit, said in April.

Meta Abo is the last of Ethiopia’s state-owned brewing assets to be sold. Heineken, the world’s third-largest brewer, bought two beermakers in the country for about $160 million in May.

3 Oct. 2011

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