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