By MARK LORENZANA
Fomento Económico Mexicano S.A.B. de C.V (FEMSA), the Mexican multinational beverage and retail company headquartered in Monterrey, Nuevo León, is leaving the beer business. The company reported on Wednesday, Feb. 15, that it will divest from Dutch brewing company Heineken to focus on its most productive business verticals: its Oxxo chain of convenience stores, and its Coca-Cola division. The Mexican company operates the largest independent Coca-Cola bottling group in the world, after the Coca-Cola Company in 1993 purchased a 30 percent stake, creating the Coca-Cola FEMSA division.
FEMSA announced on Wednesday that it had decided to sell the remaining 14.76 percent of Heineken’s shares, after 13 years of being a member of the Dutch company.
The Mexican multinational company, which started in Monterrey as Cuauhtémoc Brewery, was founded in 1890 and became part of FEMSA in 1988, which was itself established from another Monterrey-based company, Grupo VISA (Valores Industriales SA de CV), in the same year. In 1998, Grupo VISA changed its name to FEMSA, after an exchange of shares between the holders of both companies.
“After thoroughly analyzing our business platforms, including their strategic opportunities, long-term plans, and the best strategy to continue driving growth and future capital allocation, FEMSA’s Board of Directors has approved a series of decisive actions,” read the company’s official statement.
“Once completed, these actions will significantly simplify FEMSA’s corporate structure, providing greater clarity and strategic focus,” said José Antonio Fernández Carbajal, executive president of FEMSA’s Board of Directors. “Additionally, they will allow us to make capital returns to our shareholders over time.”
The company plans to divest from Heineken in the next 24 to 36 months, subject to market conditions, and as a result, the directors appointed by FEMSA will resign from the Heineken board.
Daniel Rodríguez, FEMSA CEO, said that “the best way to continue creating value is through a structure focused solely on the businesses that are key to us,” which means not only the company’s Oxxo convenience stores and its Coca-Cola FEMSA division — which operates in ten countries covering the metropolitan area of Mexico City, southeast Mexico, Central America, South America and the Philippines — but also its pharmacies. In September 2018, FEMSA, through FEMSA Comercio, announced the acquisition of Ecuadorian drugstore chains Fybeca and SanaSana, which currently have 4,000 outlets.
FEMSA currently employs more than 354,000 people.