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ST. LOUIS -- To compete with other brewers in the high-end premium beer category, Anheuser-Busch Inc. signed agreements to be the exclusive importer of various InBev premium European import brands, including, Stella Artois, Beck's, Bass Pale Ale, Hoegaarden and Leffe.
This agreement, effective in February, will see AB import the brands and hold responsibility for its sales, promotion and distribution in the U.S. The brands will be available to AB's U.S. wholesaler network, the company stated. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
"This agreement gives us highly-valued brands that appeal to beer drinkers looking for sophisticated imports in their beer choices," said August A. Busch IV, president and CEO of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. "We live in a world with diverse cultures and lifestyles, and this provides additional variety for our consumers. These well-known import brands complement our company's leading portfolio of American premium beers and enable our company to better compete. This is consistent with our stated strategy of enhancing our participation in the U.S. high-end beer segment."
In other AB news, the company signed agreements with Grupo Modelo, distributor of its bands in Mexico, to be the importer of Modelo's brand portfolio -- including Corona -- in China as soon as January 2007.
"This new partnership ideally complements the international strategy that Modelo has successfully implemented for several decades. We are very pleased with this association, which offers excellent long-term growth opportunities for Grupo Modelo's brand portfolio in China, a very important market for our company," said Carlos Fernandez, chairman of the board and CEO of Grupo Modelo.
Corona Extra, is the most popular Mexican beer in the world, and the most popular U.S. imported beer regardless of origin, according to the company.
"The popularity and high quality of Corona Extra makes it an excellent complement to our Budweiser and Harbin beers," said Busch. "Corona Extra competes in the super-premium segment of the market, which is experiencing strong growth. With our continued success in this segment, and our 10 years of sales, marketing and distribution experience, we expect to significantly increase the sales of Corona."
AB also is gearing up for the upcoming 2006 holiday season by wrapping its bottles with colorful holiday packaging. Limited edition tins featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales contain four 16-ounce aluminum Budweiser bottles with holiday tree, ribbon and ornament designs, and will be sold throughout the season.
An additional holiday themed package is being released for the Bud Light brand. Its themed 16-ounce aluminum bottles will include the brand's logo in ultraviolet print, which will illuminate under black lights. The cobalt blue bottle also features snowflakes. The brand also reintroduced 7-ounce shrink-wrapped ornament bottles featuring designs of holiday lights, snow scenes, holly, ornaments and trees. The bottles are packaged in a six pack which displays silver garland and the bottles' designs.
The Michelob brand also is getting a festive makeover, with graphics on its 6- and 12- pack carriers of Michelob, Michelob AmberBock, Michelob Light, Michelob ULTRA and Michelob ULTRA Amber. The 12-packs come wrapped as gifts, complete with a decorative ribbon and Christmas tree-shaped label for gift giving.