AB Inbev's headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. Picture: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR
AB Inbev's headquarters in Leuven, Belgium. Picture: REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR

London — Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB Inbev) chair Olivier Goudet is stepping down to focus on his roles as managing partner and CEO at JAB Holding.

Goudet will resign at AB InBev’s shareholder meeting on April 24, the beer company said in an e-mailed statement.

“The board’s succession plan has been developed since last year and we have been working with Mr Goudet on a smooth transition,” the company said. “His successor, along with new members of our board, will be announced in due course in the context of our annual shareholders meeting.”

Earlier, the Financial Times reported that Goudet was departing because of concerns of a conflict of interest, related to JAB’s 2018 acquisition of Dr Pepper Snapple Group  in an $18.7bn deal.

Goudet’s departure from AB InBev — the world’s largest beer company — illustrates the growing market sway that JAB has accumulated. The investment company, which counts the billionaire Reimann family among its backers, has gone on an acquisition spree in recent years, including restaurant chains such as Pret a Manger and Panera Bread Co.

In November, AB InBev and Keurig Dr Pepper debuted a pod-based cocktail machine that works similarly to Nestle’s Nespresso coffee maker. It was the culmination of a joint venture between the two companies that was established two years ago to create an alcoholic drinks dispenser suitable for households. JAB had acquired Keurig the year beforehand in a deal worth $13.9bn.

While management of day-to-day strategy at the world’s largest brewer rests firmly with CEO Carlos Brito, Goudet has stepped in to cement some of the company’s most defining initiatives, such as when he called Jan du Plessis, then the chairman of rival SABMiller, in 2016 seeking to agree to a takeover price for the industry’s largest-ever deal.