While some economic experts saw gloom and doom for Namibia’s economy after the takeover of Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) by a foreign competitor, Mr Sven Thieme says that NBL has outgrown the domestic market and the move to sell most of the company was therefore motivated by the need to let the bird (NBL) out of the domestic nest and explore its potential by flying away to international markets.
This move, Thieme says, will bring more benefits to the local economy as well as increasing the sustainability of the company over the long term.
Thieme, who is the executive chairman of Ohlthaver & List group of companies, was responding to questions from Omutumwa as follows:
Omutumwa: It was recently in the news that Namibia Breweries Limited was taken over by a foreign company which had acquired majority shareholding in NBL. Can you explain what motivated this move of O&L to get rid of its majority shareholding in Namibia Breweries which is a flagship of the group?
Sven Thieme: With reference to your question and statement, I wish to clarify that O&L did not “get rid” of NBL. To put it in perspective, on the domestic front (Namibia), NBL had reached its peak. Namibia is the second most sparsely populated country in the world and yet NBL has shown and maintained a steady growth trajectory over the years.
NBL’s growth and success has been based on its efforts to establish and grow volumes within its exports markets whilst it continued to innovate and perfect its brands to ensure it was able to maintain a considerable market share in beer in Namibia, which has come under continuous threat from competitors like AB-InBev over the years.
Its business case, its continued existence, and its growth however lies beyond the borders of Namibia.
We had reached consensus that it was time to unleash the unlimited potential of our flagship business by letting NBL out of its nest and spreading its wings to rightfully earn its deserved space in the global arena.
The transaction provides a platform for export growth potential in Southern and Eastern Africa, for acquired brands, such as the iconic Windhoek brand while the deal will also unlock local industrialisation and manufacturing growth with significant additional Foreign Direct Investment potential in production and supply chain capacity.
Through this transaction, there are numerous opportunities such as tapping into global expertise and international standards, and in so doing supporting knowledge transfer and local production.
Omutumwa: Can it be considered as true that the move (to sell majority shares in NBL) was motivated solely by greed on the part of the current owners of O&L, after all the years of Namibia Breweries existence but only today should the majority ownership of NBL is sold off to foreign interests?
Sven Thieme: No, this can absolutely not be considered as true!
First of all, Namibians will still own approximately 40% of the company. The only change is that O&L sold its stake to protect NBL and unleash many other opportunities. We appreciate the immense pride and love that Namibians and all of us share for our iconic brands that have become synonymous with Namibian pride.
This was not an easy decision; however we are confident that this transaction will unlock unprecedented opportunity, synergy, and scale to the newly established business and its people, brands, our country, and the region as a whole.
In the photo: Ohlthaver & List’s Executive Chairman Mr. Sven Thieme.