Anheuser-Busch InBev: Here’s to payday

I think we can afford another round, guys

PAYING $4 billion for a business you sold for $1.8 billion five years ago is not much of a way to make money. But Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), a giant brewer, may be about to do just that. It is reported to be negotiating to buy Oriental Brewery of South Korea from its private-equity owners, including KKR, to which it had sold the firm in 2009. The sale helped ABI hit financial targets which unlocked $2.5 billion of bonuses for its executives, including $289m for its boss, Carlos Brito. Although the sale may now be reversed, it appears that the bonuses will not.The eye-watering payouts came in the form of a share-option plan put in place after the merger of Anheuser-Busch (purveyor of Budweiser) and InBev (of Stella Artois fame) in November 2008. With shareholders spooked by the combined group’s huge debt pile, just as financial markets were convulsing, ABI’s board promised cheap shares to 40 executives if they got the firm’s debt-to-earnings ratio below a certain threshold. So Mr Brito flogged $9.4 billion of assets, including Oriental Brewery and a division in central Europe. Along with…

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