Sunday, July 04, 2004

A couple of weeks ago James Myburgh sent me this Slate article on the beer war brewing (sorry, I couldn't resist) between SAB and Anheuser-Busch in the US.

I can't really get too riled about this sort of thing. Every country has companies that have tried to wrap themselves in the national flag when their market share has come under attack from foreign competition. I suppose it's a testament to just how seriously A-B is taking the threat from SAB that they've launched a series of adverts pointing out that Miller beer is now part of SAB's expanding empire.

I can't resist recalling an interview in, I think, Forbes magazine with SABMiller CEO, Graham Mackay. The interview took place just after SAB brought Miller and it was pretty clear that the good gents at Forbes were rather bemused at the notion of a South African company buying this icon of the American drinks industry. A couple of questions into the interview the Forbes journalist asked the obvious question, 'How do you think that you're going to succeed where several American management teams before you have failed?' Mackay's response: 'Well, the first thing we did was get rid of the entire upper management echelon and replace them with South Africans.' Score one for the Republic.

On a more sober note (sorry, again) I'm told that SA's two biggest export earners are now booze and arms. I'm sure this says something about us but I'm not in the mood to speculate about what that might be right now.

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