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Yesterday the portal Pivní Info reproduced an interesting article that tells how a Brazilian journalist tried to interview perhaps the most hated person in the beer community, Carlos Brito, capo di tutti capi of AB-InBev, to ask him about Budvar.

Unfortunately, the Darth Vader (Sauron, Lex Luthor or any other silly, nerdy, pop-culture reference) of the beer industry refused to answer any questions saying, through his secretary, that he felt the obligation to answer only to the American media, but not to questions from other countries.

Our hero did not let that discourage him and decided he would get his answers from people close to Brito, so, besides the man's secretary, he contacted other top managers from the multinational, all of them from Brazil and all part of Brito's inner circle.

Among the several questions he asked, there is one that stands out for the silliness of the answer, if Brito had ever tried Czech beer: "Yes, we've all tasted it", answered one manager, "but it might be too strong to have mass commercial success". Adding that in the world, people are "more used to lighter beers" and "that Budvar is more for special occasions, rather than for every day drinking". "More a Stella Artois than a Beck's". Whatever...

But back to the main topic. One of the key questions asked by the journalist was if AB-InBev was planning to buy Budvar. Nobody gave a concrete answer. One of the managers said that before even thinking of an operation like that, several other factors would have to be evaluated, financial ones, specially. For example, whether buying Budvar wouldn't be more expensive than keeping on covering the legal fees from their trademark conflicts.

Those answers won't surprise anyone. You can read more or less the same words in countless interviews to top bosses of big companies from all over the world, regardless of their business. However, there is something that caught my attention. Two of the interviewees mentioned 2010 as the year when the privatisation of Budvar can start to be seriously discussed.

A couple of weeks ago a new center-right government coalition took office. They have a very reformist agenda. Their goal is to fix the public accounts reducing expenses and trying to generate some cash, among other things.

The other day the newspapers spoke about the announcement of the new Minister of Agriculture: Within a year Budvar will become a joint-stock company. He also made clear that this didn't mean a privatisation, but that it would give the company the possibility of finding a good strategic partner. In other words, it will be privatised, but just not right away.

Oh! I almost forget. The article reproduced by Pivní Info was originally published by Lidové Noviny in 2008. Coincidence? Could it be that I was right in what I said here about the plans of Staropramen's new owners, or perhaps in what I said here about one of the possible reasons why AB-InBev had decided to leave this country, even though in the end, Heineken.CZ didn't set up shop in Smíchov?

It makes you think.

Na Zdraví!

PD: I've just read that today the European Court will make public their final verdict on the trademark conflict between AB-InBev and Budvar. I can be another factor to take into account.

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