SAB ‘reinstates’ R2 billion investment in South Africa – but warns against alcohol bans

South African Breweries (SAB) will reinstate its investment programme that was cancelled last year, allocating R2 billion for its home operations.

The brewery cancelled R5 billion in investments in the country in over the last year due to the country’s multiple alcohol bans related to the Covid-19 lockdown. The group halted R2.5 billion in 2020 and a further R2.5 billion placed on hold in January 2021.

The cancelled investments relate to upgrades to operating facilities, product innovation, operating systems, as well as the installation of new equipment at selected plants, the group said at the time.

The group had warned that the decision will impact the profitability of a number of jobs created by the companies that would have worked with SAB to execute the capital investment plans.

However, SAB has now walked back on some of these plans, and said it will invest R2 billion on a number of projects to be completed in the 2022 financial year.

The funding will be used for a number of upgrades to operating facilities, installation of new equipment at selected plants, product innovations and other necessary operating systems, Reuters reported.

However, it cautioned that the move was a show of good faith and that government should consult with the business sector ahead of any future bans.

“The move to implement reasonable measures, as we continue to navigate the pandemic, is a welcomed signal that we can expect to see more consultation in the future and that blanket bans will be a thing of the past,” said Richard Rivett-Carnac, AB InBev’s vice president of finance, legal and corporate affairs for the rest of Africa.

“Further collaboration will provide the required confidence boost needed in order to attract further investment to the country,” he said.

Read: Shock grant data shows why government is pushing for a new ‘basic income’ for South Africa

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SAB ‘reinstates’ R2 billion investment in South Africa – but warns against alcohol bans