Make no mistake the beer market is booming in Ethiopia as one of the last local breweries cedes control to multinational conglomerates. Dashen finalized their deal with British Duet Group last Thursday. Dutch giant Heineken, which owns Harar abd Bedele, announced they are to build a new 100 million euro brewery in central Ethiopia while Harar plans massive expansion.
Duet will pay USD 90 million for the nation’s youngest beer maker, located in Gonder, 738Km north of Addis Ababa; the only brewery in the northern part of the country.
At the final signing ceremony Thursday April 26 at Radisson Blu Hotel half was paid up front with the balance due in two years. Negotiations have been taking place since 2011.
In September 2011, Dashen that was established in 2000 by Tiret (endowment fund) in Gonder, took part in a bid to acquire Meta Abo Brewery in a joint venture with Duet. Although it was twice the floor price, their offer was much lower than other bidders. Dashen and Duet had offered USD 173 million for Meta. The two firms are said to have agreed that if the consortium was successful, Meta would be under Dashen but Duet would get 51 percent, and therefore majority control of Dashen.
That bid for Meta failed but the consortium continued negotiations to own majority of shares in Dashen.
As the months passed the consortium began visiting the brewery on several occasions and held frequent talks with their management and board.
Despite its youth, Dashen has gained a dominant share in the Ethiopian market. Dashen’s subsidiary, Gonder Malt Factory, which will become the second malt factory in Ethiopia, is almost finished
The deal will allow Dashen to expand the Gonder based brewery production capacity and open another branch brewery in the central part of the country, which given its proximity to Addis, is the nation’s largest beer market.
Dashen has already received 20hct of land from Debre Birhan in North Shoa Zone of the Amhara Region, 130Km northeast of Addis Ababa, to plant the second brewery. It will be the second brewery in Debre Birhan, joining Habesha Brewery Share Company which will start construction soon, according to sources.
Duet is a global alternative asset manager founded in 2002 with over USD 2.4 billion of equity under management as of January 2011 across its hedge funds, real estate and infrastructure investments. The group employs 73 professionals in London, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, New Delhi, Dubai and Istanbul.
Heineken will start producing its international brands from its new production centre in eastern Addis Ababa.
“The construction of the new brewery will commence as soon as we finalize pre conditions,” Johan Doyer, General Manger of Heineken, said.
The new brewery will make local beer brands Harar and Bedele, which were purchased by Heineken at a cost of USD 163 million last year.
They also plan to expand Harar’s production by one third at a cost of 400 million birr at Harar Brewery, located in south-eastern Harar 525Km east of Addis Ababa. That should be completed by 2013.
Juneydi Basha, general manager of Harar Brewery, said that the expansion project will allow the company to produce 120 million bottles of beer every year, a dramatic increase from the current 90 million.
The management of Heineken and Harar say the new factory will utilize a Japanese management system known as five steps which has been proven successful internationally. The managers also had a chance to travel to Burundi to share the Heineken experience and to apply what they observed in Burundi.
“The five steps have helped us manage stock, packaging and the workshop more efficiently,” Juneydi said.
According to Juneydi, the new expansion will be built in the current brewery compound. The total area of the company established 28 years ago is 112, 534sqm.
When the brewery was under PPESA it proposed expansion projects but the plans were not implemented due to lack of capital.
“The supply and demand gap will narrow when we start production after the expansion,” the general manager said.
The company has registered 105 percent of its target in the first quarter of 2012, which is 37 percent more when compared to a similar period in 2011. In the past fiscal year the company has registered an 80 million birr profit.
Juneydi who served the brewery as a manager for two decades has been there since its formation in 1984. The brewery plays various social and environmental roles in the area. It also contributes six million birr every year for the Harar Beer Football Club. Currently the brewery has 657 employees and 32 percent of them are women. Two weeks ago Harar Brewery was recognized at the second national quality awards by the Ethiopian Quality Award Organization (EQAO).
Harar is more prominent in Eastern Ethiopia because it is the only brewery there. Harar is its most popular product, taking up 70pct of its production with the non-alcoholic beer Sofi taking up 27pct followed by Hakim Stout at three percent.
The general manager of Heineken said that the new brewery known as the Green Field project will play a major role in improving the lucrative beer industry.
“When the Green Field beer plant starts production, local and international beer brands will be easily available,” Johan explained. Currently, Harar and Bedele have to transport hundreds of kilometres in order to reach Addis. Both Harar and Bedele are dominant brands in the eastern and western part of the country respectively.
The Heineken plant project has been studied by Harar Brewery for several years. Harar’s study that was called ‘Addis Green Field’ had been planned for the Dukem area, in the eastern outskirts of Addis. But Harar’s project was suspended due to lack of finance.
Heineken’s beer plant will be the second brewery in Addis Ababa with BGI Ethiopia, the biggest brewery in the country, and producer of St. George and Castel having three. Meta Abo brewery located 26Km west of Addis, is the other major beer maker close to Addis. The under formation Habesha also plans to build a new factory in Debre Birhan.