AB InBev to meet board of directors quota early, says CEO

Summary

The largest brewer in the world, AB InBev of Leuven, says it will reach the quota for women on its board before the law takes effect in 2019

One-third women

Leuven-based AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world, has announced a target of one-third of all boardroom posts to be filled by women before 2019, when the target becomes a legal quota in Belgium. Company chair Kees Storm made the announcement at the annual general meeting (AGM) this week.

For most companies, the quota comes into force in 2017; for companies with a controlling shareholder – AB InBev is controlled by Belgian and Brazilian families – the quota becomes law two years later. “We will meet that deadline, and most likely will achieve that figure even sooner,” Storm said in answer to a question from the floor. “Above all, what we want is a balanced board with the right people, irrespective of gender or nationality.”

At present, AB InBev has 14 directors, two of whom are women: Maria Asunción Aramburuzabala of Mexico was the reference shareholder of Mexican market leader Grupo Modelo, which was taken over by AB InBev in 2012, and M Michele Burns of the US, former CEO of human resources multinational Mercer. Burns (pictured), who has sat on several boards, including Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs, was appointed at the AGM.

InBev could find additional women directors within the ranks of its shareholders, Trends magazine suggested. Eugénie Patri Sébastien is a director of the Luxembourg-based holding company of InBev’s Belgian shareholders. Viscountess Diane de Spoelberch, the wife of former Interbrew director Charles Adriaenssen, became a director of the holding in 2013.

“I cannot rule out that women might be nominated to the board by controlling shareholders,” Storm said. 

Belgian beer

Belgium has a beer-brewing tradition going back centuries and is known around the world for both its beer culture and hundreds of craft brews.
History - Beer culture has been recognised by Unesco as part of Flanders’ Intangible Cultural Heritage. The local beer culture dates to the middle ages, when farmers brewed their own beer from the rich harvests of local grain, later transferring brewing to local guilds and abbeys.
Beer styles - The main styles include lambics, white beers, fruit beers, Trappists and abbey beers. The Trappist beer Westvleteren 12, brewed by a dozen monks in a small West Flanders town, is regularly rated by various sources as the best beer in the world.
Exports - Sixty percent of the Belgian beer production is exported abroad, with France, Germany, the Netherlands and the US the largest markets.
74

Litres of beer annually consumed per person in Belgium

100

breweries in Flanders

19

million hectolitres of beer produced in Belgium in 2012