Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, has signed an agreement to buy 22 per cent of Tsingtao Brewery, 21st Century Business Herald said. The American brewer now holds 27 per cent of Tsingtao's shares listed on the Hong Kong stock market, making it the second largest shareholder in the company after Qingdao city's asset manage- ment arm. The deal has been passed to the foreign trade ministry and the State Development and Planning Commission for approval.
Anheuser-Busch already owns 98 per cent of Budweiser Wuhan International Brewing in Wuhan, Hubei province, where it makes Budweiser beer. Tsingtao is China's largest brewery group, with an estimated 11 per cent of the country's beer market. Its nearest rival is Beijing-based Yanjing, which has 7.5 per cent. Tsingtao reported that profits had increased by 50 per cent in the first half of this year on the back of a 40 per cent increase in sales, helped by the World Cup.
Future expansion plans include setting up breweries in Taiwan, once annual sales there reach 30,000-40,000 kilolitres a year. They stood at 9,000 kilolitres in the first half of 2002, or about 3 per cent of the market.