A bright star in turbulent times.

Author:Casanova, Lourdes

It is not easy to keep my optimistic view these days. At the recent International Monetary Fund assembly in Peru on October 8-10 we only heard bad news. According to some executives of the Institute of International Finance, about $800 billion will leave emerging markets between this year and next, the biggest exit since the late 1980s. India and China are the bright spots with growth forecasts for this year of around 7.3 percent and 8.8 percent respectively. Brazil, the biggest economy in Latin America and the seventh in the world, will see a contraction of 3 percent--and the region as a whole will grow by only 0.8 percent.

Among the bad news we have a bright star: the Anheuser-Busch Inbev and SABMiller $100-billion merger, which will concentrate one third of the world's beer brewers in what is going to be the fourth biggest merger in corporate history. We need to remember that at the origin of this big operation is the merger in Brazil of Brahma and Antarctica in 1999 (and approved by CADE, the regulatory body, in March 2000). At that time, it was the biggest merger in Brazilian history and was marketed as the 'Dream Project.' As a rationale for the operation, the CEOs said that they believed in a single market from the United States to the Southern Cone and that they would continue their expansion in Latin America and later in the U.S. The ambition was to create a truly Brazilian global company. Let's remember that in January of 1999 the Brazilian currency was unpegged from the dollar and lost half its value against the U.S. currency in just a few months. And the region was going through what some called the 'half lost decade' (1997-2002).Those were turbulent times as they are today.

In July 2013, the Brazilian magazine Exame ranked the best and the biggest (maiores and melhores) Brazilian companies as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. CEOs were asked to vote for the best Brazilian company in those 40 years and, not surprisingly, they choose AmBev. the company started in 1989, when the Brazilian investors Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles and Beto Sicupira purchased Brahma, a traditional Brazilian brewery founded in 1888. Despite the fact that none of them were experts in the brewing business, they helped the company succeed by implementing an efficiency culture with the support of the consultant Vicente Falconi, who was...

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