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InBev reports fat 2009 profits

BRUSSELS, Mar 4 – The world\’s biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev reported 2009 net profits of 4.613 billion dollars on Thursday, following big disposals and cost savings, its accounts showed.

Created in November 2008 when Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev bought US giant Anheuser-Busch for 52 billion dollars (38 billion euros), the company reported net profits of 1.28 billion dollars just for the fourth quarter despite lower full-year sales.

Comparisons are difficult to make because the group incorporated around seven billion dollars\’ worth of disposals into the accounts, mainly in central Europe and Asia, helping bring net debt down to 45 billion dollars by the end of 2009.

Total volumes for beer fell by 0.7 percent, but earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation grew by roughly eight percent pro rata to 13.037 billion dollars.

Operating expenses fell by 2.5 percent, with the group reporting an additional 1.1 billion dollars of savings due to synergies following the US takeover.

However, volumes brewed also slipped by 1.8 percent. Anheuser-Busch InBev\’s flagship beer brands include Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck\’s.

The beer market has shrunk in traditional territories including north America and western Europe, but Brazilian volumes rose by around 10 percent.

Anheuser-Busch InBev proposes to pay a dividend of 0.38 euro per share, the value of which dropped 3.38 percent on the Brussels exchange to 36.57 euros after opening.

The company said in January it was to cut 10 percent of its 8,000-strong workforce across Europe.

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