US billionaire Bill Gates has acquired a small share in Mexico's giant brewing company Grupo FEMSA through his investment company Cascade Investment LLC fund. Gates, co-founder the Microsoft computer empire, has made other investments in Mexican companies, including the media giant Grupo Televisa (see SourceMex, 2003-08-06). For Gates, this is a lucrative investment in the rapidly growing Mexican beverage industry, particularly beer.
In the transaction, Cascade Investment acquired about a 3% share of FEMSA for US$392 million. The deal was reported in a passive filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which does not require investors to report when the securities were acquired or the purpose behind the transactions. Grupo FEMSA is traded on the New York financial markets.
Monterrey-based FEMSA has three divisions: a soft-drinks unit--Coca-Cola Femsa, a beer subsidiary, and the Oxxo chain of convenience stores.
Coca-Cola Femsa is the largest bottler of Coca-Cola in Latin America and the second largest in the world. The company recently expanded into noncarbonated drinks (see SourceMex, 2007-10-31).
While beer represents only 27% of FEMSA's total earnings, the industry has grown steadily in recent years, fueled by exports. Mexico, which in 2003 became the world's leading exporter of beer, surpassing Germany and the Netherlands, earned about …