South African Breweries turns investment taps back on for home market

JOHANNESBURG, June 7 (Reuters) - South African Breweries (SAB), part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, has reinstated its investment programme that was cancelled last year, allocating 2 billion rand ($148.12 million)for its home operations, the company said on Monday.

The maker of Carling Black Label and Castle Lager beer had cancelled 2.5 billion rand for the 2020 financial year and in January cancelled a further 2.5 billion rand of investment earmarked for 2021 due to a challenging operating environment, regulatory uncertainty and a third local ban on alcohol sales in the country.

South Africa had banned alcohol sales as part of efforts to free up space in hospitals burdened with alcohol-related injuries for COVID-19 patients. In its latest move to curb the third-wave of infections, alcohol sales were not banned but gatherings have been reduced.

The capital injection is earmarked for projects to be completed in the financial year 2022. Projects include upgrades to operating facilities, installation of new equipment at selected plants, product innovations and other necessary operating systems, SAB said in a statement.

“The move to implement reasonable measures, as we continue to navigate the pandemic, is a welcomed signal that we can expect to see more consultation in the future and that blanket bans will be a thing of the past,” SAB VP Finance and Legal, Richard Rivett-Carnac said.

“Further collaboration will provide the required confidence boost needed in order to attract further investment to the country.” ($1 = 13.5028 rand) (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla. Editing by Jane Merriman)