South African Breweries PLC
30 July 2001
Letter to the Company Announcements Office of the London Stock Exchange from
the Company Secretary, South African Breweries plc, at the Annual General
Meeting of South African Breweries plc held today (30th July, 2001) at the
Hotel Intercontinental, London, W1J 7QY. The Chairman reported, introducing a
review from the Chief Executive, as follows:
'Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this year's Annual General
Meeting of South African Breweries plc. This meeting marks the completion of
the second financial year for the company since our listing on the London
Stock Exchange on 8th March 1999. The year under review saw our international
businesses perform well with strong growth in both volumes and profits, while
in South Africa the company has performed admirably despite difficult trading
In South Africa consumer spending on the lottery and cell phones, combined
with increased fuel costs and the surplus of cheap wine, led to a decline in
beer volumes by 4.9%. However, the management at Beer South Africa is to be
commended for maintaining margins at last year's levels despite these
Turning to our international businesses, Poland increased its volumes by 32%
and strong performances were also seen in China and Russia. Zambia and
Mozambique showed significant increases in profits and our Czech operation
delivered results ahead of management expectations. By the year-end our
worldwide total beverage volumes had risen 12.2% to 86 million hectolitres.
Our strong underlying operating performances were impacted by the strength of
the US dollar against most other currencies during the past twelve months. Our
adjusted earnings per share were similarly affected and at 54.4 US cents are
down 3.9% on last year. In £ sterling, however, adjusted earnings per share
reflected an increase of 4.8%.
Now to the business of today: Resolution No. 3 proposes to this meeting that
the shareholders approve the final dividend of 18.5 US cents per share
proposed by the board for payment on 3rd August 2001. Together with the
interim dividend of 6.5 US cents per share, this makes an unchanged total of
25 US cents for the year, resulting in a dividend covered 2.2 times by
adjusted earnings per share.
The group wishes to retain flexibility to amend the mix of debt and
shareholders' funds to optimum levels for the long-term benefit of all
shareholders. Accordingly, Resolution No. 9 being proposed today is to seek
updated shareholder approval to purchase the company's own shares as, and
when, appropriate. Your directors have no immediate plans to use this
This month the company announced the offering by its subsidiary, SAB Finance
(Cayman Islands) Limited, of US$500 million guaranteed convertible bonds, to
be issued and redeemed at par. These bonds are due in 2006 and are
convertible at an exchange price of 615 pence per share into existing or new
SAB ordinary shares via exchangeable redeemable preference shares in the
issuer. The coupon rate has been fixed at 4.25% p.a. payable semi-annually.
J P Morgan, the sole bookrunner and joint lead manager for the offering, has
an option to purchase additional bonds up to US$100 million. Closing is
expected on or about 10 August 2001.
The proceeds of the bonds will be used to refinance existing debt utilized for
past acquisitions, enhance SAB's funding flexibility for future acquisitions,
in line with our strategy, and for general corporate purposes. The offering
will broaden SAB's investor base in the international capital markets,
lengthen the maturity profile of its debt and fix funding costs in a
relatively low interest rate environment.
Applications will be made for the bonds to be listed and admitted to trading
on the London Stock Exchange's market for listed securities.
I now call upon the Chief Executive, Mr. Graham Mackay, to report on recent
developments and on current trading.'
Mr. Graham Mackay, Chief Executive of South African Breweries plc, stated:
'Beer South Africa's volumes remain under pressure from the issues that
negatively impacted last year's performance, but these have lessened, leaving
cumulative volume 1% down on the prior year's relatively firm first quarter.
SAB International has continued to build on its strong position in key
emerging markets. At the time of our preliminary results on 31st May, we
announced the acquisition of three new breweries in China and our businesses
there are continuing to perform well. On 28th June we announced our
acquisition of a controlling interest in Mysore Breweries Limited in South
West India, further evidence of our commitment to the Asian region. In the
same month we also announced the acquisition of a further 53.1% in Nile
Breweries, Uganda, which results in a shareholding of over 90% of that
Our businesses in Botswana, Tanzania and Mozambique, which are larger members
of our African portfolio, have seen a good start to the year. Despite a late
onset of summer in Eastern Europe, which resulted in volumes being somewhat
lower than hoped, our financial performance there continues to be strong. In
Poland, in the face of a poorer economic situation, our business has
maintained market share, while in the Czech Republic the Pilsner Urquell brand
is performing well and the business is ahead of financial projections. Our
plans to grow the Pilsner Urquell brand internationally are also showing
encouraging results, especially in the US and UK. In Russia our business is
operating ahead of expectations.
In South Africa soft drink volumes at ABI have shown a positive trend with
volumes up 2% for the first quarter. Pressure continues on the hotel and
gaming businesses, which operate in a highly competitive environment, and
occupancies are running at levels slightly lower than those of last year.
Overall, the group's financial performance in the first quarter of the current
year is in line with our expectations.'
COMPANY SECRETARY: SOUTH AFRICAN BREWERIES PLC
ONE STANHOPE GATE, LONDON W1K 1AF
30TH JULY 2001