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Announcement:

Moody's: Three Major European Alcoholic Beverage Companies Successfully Manage Acquisition Debt

24 Aug 2010

Paris, August 24, 2010 -- Following large, transformational acquisitions, three major European alcoholic beverage companies are successfully managing to delever and reduce the risk in their financial structures despite the difficult industry and capital market environment, says Moody's Investors Service in a newly published Special Comment.

The companies, Anheuser-Busch InBev ("ABI", Baa2/positive), Carlsberg Breweries ("CB", Baa3/stable) and Pernod Ricard (Ba1/positive), have a history of integrating past acquisitions. "Their respective market positions in what is perceived as a defensive industry enabled them to raise equity and debt financing during a time of unusually high volatility," explains Yasmina Serghini-Douvin, a Moody's Assistant Vice President-Analyst and author of the report. "They were helped by the relatively resilient demand for alcoholic beverages, compared to other consumer products, and by the diversity of their geographies and brands."

In the report, entitled "European Alcoholic Beverage Companies: Despite Hefty Purchases Made During The Downturn, Debt Hangover Reduced", Moody's examines the de-leveraging strategies that the three companies have used and their success in improving their financial profiles since 2008. The rating agency also discusses its expectations for further improvement in their debt protection ratios in a still-challenging macroeconomic environment for consumer products companies.

Moody's notes in the report that its sovereign risk unit continues to forecast a sluggish rebound in advanced economies, with global growth likely to be around 4.5% in 2010 and slightly lower in 2011. Financial conditions have become more hostile in the Eurozone than the rating agency expected, underpinned by worries that public policymakers may have run out of options.

"In Europe, still-high unemployment rates and government austerity plans are weighing on consumer spending. Demand for alcoholic beverages has not picked up in major profit pools such as the US and Europe, although the picture is mixed by region," says Ms Serghini-Douvin. "Moody's expects constraints on pricing activity and sales to continue although we recognise that ABI and Pernod Ricard draw strength from their respective positioning in markets where demand is growing and Carlsberg has been able to further grow its margins despite the important excise duty increase on beer introduced in January 2010 in its main market, Russia."

* * * * *

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Paris
Yasmina Serghini-Douvin
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's France SAS
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Paris
Eric de Bodard
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's France SAS
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's France SAS
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Moody's: Three Major European Alcoholic Beverage Companies Successfully Manage Acquisition Debt
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