November 27, 2017 / 9:20 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Mexican brewer Modelo to invest $754 mln in Hidalgo state

(New throughout, adds company confirmation, comments from Mexico's President and Grupo Modelo CEO)

By Anthony Esposito

MEXICO CITY, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Mexican beer maker Grupo Modelo, a unit of global top brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev , said on Monday it plans to invest 14 billion pesos ($754 million) to build a brewing and bottling plant in the city of Apan in the central state of Hidalgo.

Construction is due to begin by the end of this year with operations kicking off in the first quarter of 2019, Mauricio Leyva, Grupo Modelo's chief executive and AB InBev's president for Middle Americas, said at an event in Mexico City.

"We expect in about 14 to 16 months to be sharing and toasting with you the first beer from this plant," said Leyva.

The news confirmed an earlier Reuters story.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto presided at the event, saying the investment was a vote of confidence in the economy despite recent headwinds.

"The fact that domestic and foreign companies keep investing in Mexico is a clear sign that we're on the right economic path," said Pena Nieto.

In the third quarter, Mexico's economy shrank for the first time in nearly two years, as a hit from natural disasters compounded concerns that stalled talks to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement were hurting growth.

Grupo Modelo's new plant will have an initial annual capacity of 12 million hectoliters, equivalent to the production of 9.25 million 355 milliliter bottles per day. The plant will eventually ramp up to double that capacity.

The firm, which already has 7 plants in Mexico, makes and exports Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico beer brands among others.

$1 = 18.5567 Mexican pesos Reporting by Anthony Esposito; editing by Jason Neely and David Gregorio

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