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11 May 2017

AB-InBev’s corporate culture criticised

That backfired. At AB-InBev’s AGM on 26 April 2017, a representative from NN, a large Dutch insurer, complained to AB-InBev’s board that at AB-InBev “we see little diversity, insufficiently independent directors and especially a bonus culture for employees and managers that are not in line with international standards.”

Countering the accusation, AB-InBev’s Chairman Olivier Goudet reportedly said that officially only three of the fifteen directors are independent. But after the takeover of SABMiller, Mr Goudet explained, three representatives joined the board [SABMiller’s largest shareholders] who are not part of AB-InBev’s original reference shareholders [the Belgians and the Brazilians]. Referring to Altria and the Santo Domingos, Mr Goudet said that “those are people with experiences in large companies. They are open-minded. I can assure you of that.”

To the criticism by NN that SABMiller had been better at managing its director than AB-InBev, Mr Goudet replied laconically: “Was SABMiller better? If so, why were they taken over?”

At the AGM, some of the smaller shareholders rewarded the company's top people with applause, Belgian media reported. After all, AB-InBev’s shareholders will receive EUR 3.60 (USD 3.90) per share in dividends in 2016 – the same amount as in 2015.