Kuwaitis buy up Aussie stakes

Royal Dutch Shell had agreed to sell small stakes in a liquefied natural gas project and related joint venture in Australia for $1.14 billion (R12bn) to Kuwait’s Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company, the oil major said yesterday. “Shell will remain a major player in Australia’s energy industry. However, we are refocusing our investment to where we can add the most value with Shell’s capital and technology,” chief executive Ben van Beurden said in a statement. Shell said it was divesting an 8 percent stake in the Wheatstone-Iago joint venture and a 6.4 percent interest in the Wheatstone liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia. – Reuters


Korean brewer bought back

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has agreed to buy back South Korea’s Oriental Brewery (OB) for $5.8bn, including debt, returning to a large Asian market at a time of strong industry growth across the region. The sale by KKR and Affinity Equity Partners will be Asia’s biggest ever for private equity, excluding flotations, and rewards them with returns of more than five times their investment. However, AB InBev can claim with yesterday’s deal to be paying a reasonable price for a business that has grown in value in the five years since it was sold for $1.8bn. That sale was one of the aggressive divestments forced on InBev after its $52bn purchase of US brewer Anheuser-Busch in 2008. AB InBev shares rose 1 percent by noon in Brussels yesterday, the strongest performer in a Stoxx 600 food and beverage index, which was up 0.3 percent. Andrew Holland at Société Générale said the price was pretty fair considering OB’s improved profitability. – Reuters


Unrest threat to Thai plans

Toyota Motor might reconsider investing up to 20 billion baht (R6.6bn) in Thailand, and could even cut production, if political unrest dragged on, the head of the Japanese car maker’s local unit said yesterday. Toyota is the largest car manufacturer in Thailand, producing 800 000 vehicles a year. Plans to increase its annual capacity by 200 000 vehicles a year over the next three to four years were now uncertain, Kyoichi Tanada, the president of Toyota’s Thai unit, told a news conference. “Our new investment in Thailand may not happen if the current political crisis goes on longer,” he said. – Reuters