CityPress - - Business -

An­heuser-Busch (AB) InBev, in a move to win lo­cal ap­proval for its ac­qui­si­tion of brewer SABMiller, this week un­veiled R50 mil­lion in fund­ing over five years to re­duce al­co­hol abuse and boost en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment in Jo­han­nes­burg.

The al­lo­ca­tion of the fund­ing will be over­seen by a steer­ing com­mit­tee which, in turn, will be over­seen by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the City of Jo­han­nes­burg and AB InBev.

The an­nounce­ment of the R50 mil­lion amount adds to the R1 bil­lion agreed to by AB InBev and gov­ern­ment as an in­vest­ment in the coun­try – part of the multi­na­tional’s pub­lic charm of­fen­sive aimed at win­ning ap­proval from com­pe­ti­tion au­thor­i­ties for the ac­qui­si­tion of SABMiller.

The R1 bil­lion has been ear­marked to sup­port small­holder farm­ers and pro­mote en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment, lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing, ex­ports and jobs; re­duce the harm­ful use of al­co­hol; and in­tro­duce green and wa­ter-sav­ing tech­nolo­gies.

This week’s an­nounce­ment comes ahead of the Com­pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal hear­ings into the pro­posed ac­qui­si­tion of SABMiller that will start later this month.

The Food and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union, which rep­re­sents work­ers at SABMiller, has said it would raise con­cerns about the merger at the hear­ings.

City of Jo­han­nes­burg Mayor Parks Tau and AB InBev’s vice-pres­i­dent of global cor­po­rate af­fairs, Scott Ratzan, signed a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing re­gard­ing the fund­ing and as­so­ci­ated pro­grammes at an event this week in Soweto.

Tau said the steer­ing com­mit­tee would look for en­ter­prise op­por­tu­ni­ties in the value chain as part of sup­port­ing lo­cal en­trepreneurs, while 6 000 work­ers would help pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes aimed at re­duc­ing al­co­hol abuse.

Ratzan was un­able to say how the R50 mil­lion would be spent, but said the steer­ing com­mit­tee would de­ter­mine this.

– Justin Brown

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