South Korea: Oriental Brewery pays 400 bln won in dividends to mother company AB InBev
South Korea's largest beer maker Oriental Brewery (OB) paid 400 billion won in dividends to its Belgian mother company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) for the second consecutive year despite its poor performance affected by COVID-19, the Korea Times reported on May 5.
OB is owned 100 percent by AB InBev and the entire dividend was paid to the headquarters in Leuven, Belgium.
Until last year, OB had been paying dividends once every two years. But this changed when the brewery sent 439 billion won in 2019 and 400 billion won last year.
The dividend payments have been exceeding its profits recently. OB's net profit in 2020 showed 274.3 billion won, which is 125.7 billion won lower than the 400 billion won it paid. A year earlier, the brewery remitted 58.4 billion won more in dividends than the net profit of 380.5 billion won it created.
From April 2014, when AB InBev took back OB from local private equity fund KPR for $5.8 billion, the Belgian company received a total 1.55 trillion won in dividends.
OB has been saying the amount of dividends only seems high because it was making the payments only every two years. But when it paid out for two years straight, OB said its mother company had overinvested in other acquisition deals thus necessitating the dividend for this year.
"We predict this annual dividend trend will continue for the time being," an OB official said.
AB InBev is the biggest beer maker in the world, and it acquired No. 2 player SAB Miller in 2016. The Belgian brewer borrowed a large amount of money during the acquisition deal and its debt reached 100 trillion won by last year.
OB has also been showing losses every year since 2019. Its sales and net profit last year declined by 12.2 percent and 41.6 percent year-on-year to record 1.35 trillion won and 160 billion won, respectively.
OB's main rival HiteJinro, on the other hand, is putting all its efforts into taking away the No.1 title in the market and OB is not in a position to pay high dividends to its mother company. OB has continuously held the top position here since 2012.
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