In their fast-paced account (The Beer Monopoly) of the consolidation of the global beer industry that led to the creation of AB InBev, authors Ina Verstl and Ernst Faltermeier describe how critics accused the Brazilian company InBev, which was leading the process, of not being brewers but bankers. The recent slump in the AB InBev share price, which suffered its sharpest fall in a decade on the day it released its third-quarter figures, suggests some investors may now be worried about its status both as a banker and as a brewer. The 50% cut in dividend, needed to reduce debt levels, was traumatic, but had been flagged by management weeks earlier, so was not unexpected. What was unexpected was the sales growth of just 4.5% to $13.3bn — lower than the $13.97bn that analysts had been encouraged to target for the three months to end-September. Also disappointing was the 7.5%, against an expected 11%, increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) as the...

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