Brazil’s Ambev to invest $1.5bn in new factories

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Ambev, Brazil’s biggest brewer, promised to invest up to R$2.5bn in new factories and distribution centres this year in spite of concerns that the country’s slowing growth could hurt beer sales.
The S?o Paulo-based company, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, posted a 26 per cent rise in net profits to R$7.56bn from R$5.99bn in 2009 on a 9 per cent rise in net revenue to R$25.23bn.
However, volumes slowed in the fourth quarter and could continue to slow this year as a result of heavy rains and the effects of recent price increases, the company said on Thursday.
Jo?o Castro Neves, chief executive, also expressed caution about efforts by Brazil’s government to tame inflation through more conservative spending.
“There are some pros and cons (for 2011),” Mr Castro Neves told analysts and reporters on Thursday. “A clear pro for 2011 is the low unemployment figure – the lowest we’ve ever had in Brazil.”
But he added that the government’s decision not to deliver any real increase to the minimum wage this year could put people off spending more on beer or the company’s other offerings, such as Pepsi and the popular Guaran? soft drink.