BRUSSELS (AP) — The maker of Budweiser beer is banking on this summer's World Cup soccer tournament to give some fizz to an otherwise stagnant global beer market.
Carlos Brito, the chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA — the world's largest brewer and maker of Stella Artois, Bud Light and Budweiser— says the four-week-long soccer championship in June would be like "a second summer" in big beer-drinking markets in the southern hemisphere like Brazil and Argentina.
"It's a great beer event, all about celebrating and watching football," Brito said Tuesday.
Brito declined to put a number on the financial impact of the once-every-four-years tournament taking place this summer in South Africa. Nor would he say which team ABInBev was favoring to win.
"Well I'm from Brazil and Peter's from Germany," Brito said, smiling across a table at company chairman Peter Graf. "So it's hard to take sides."
Budweiser is the official beer sponsor of this year's World Cup, scheduled to take place in South Africa from June 11 to July 11.
Brito also reconfirmed the company's outlook for the year, with global beer sales stagnant and no rebound forecast in 2010.
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA sold 0.7 percent less beer and soft drinks in 2009 during the economic downturn and says that global beer demand is neither growing nor shrinking.
ABInBev is scheduled to report its first quarter earnings on May 5, and Brito said that he couldn't provide any update on trading activity during the period until then.
InBev has spent the last year struggling with the aftermath of a $52 billion takeover in July 2008, just weeks before the financial crisis sent debt costs soaring.
The company said last month that global demand for beer "remains relatively resilient." It warned that first quarter volume sales may suffer from the cold weather in the U.S. and alcohol tax hikes in Russia.
The brewer depends on emerging economies for about half of its revenue and most of its volume sales. It is the market leader in the U.S. and in Brazil.
Besides Budweiser and Stella Artois, the brewer also makes beers such as Jupiler, the number-one beer in Belgium, as well as Skol and Antarctica, two popular Brazilian beers.