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Jul 27, 2007 / Richard Hall

SAN MIGUEL : BEER VS POWER

There are two items of business strategy news this year that I have been unable to reconcile in my own mind.

One was the linking of Canada’s Cott Corporation to a bid for Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages. Retailer labels and brands do not normally mix, but here the geographic focus seemed to be in conflict as well.

The second is San Miguel’s drive to relinquish its core strength of food and drink, to invest in the uncharted territory of power generation and other infrastructure sectors.

Most companies would seek to extend such influential national positions into broader related portfolios or regional expansion. Yet San Miguel has sold off its main soft drinks interests and now, despite accounting for a huge share of Philippine beer sales, it plans to bottle out of that too.

If there were a clear path to the power strategy, I might at least acknowledge a well thought out plan, but there doesn’t seem to be one. A reported investment programme of US $780 million is modest enough for food and drink these days, let alone energy provision.

I’d be delighted if anyone could enlighten me.

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