Bill Gates Makes Billion-Dollar Bet On Heineken Just Before Budweiser Controversy

Billionaire and Microsoft Corp. Co-Founder Bill Gates continues to make waves with his latest venture into the beer industry. Gates made headlines by acquiring a substantial stake in Heineken Holding NV HEINY, a Dutch company worth nearly $1 billion. 

The transaction, which occurred on Feb. 17, involved Gates purchasing 10.8 million shares valued at $939.87 million, according to the filing by the Netherlands’ Financial Markets Authority (AFM). The acquisition coincided with the significant sale of Heineken shares by FEMSA, the company’s major Mexican shareholder. The well-timed investment comes just a short time before the controversy surrounding Anheuser-Busch BUD meaning the billionaire could end up seeing a bump as Anheuser-Busch continues to slide. 

Gates’s interest in Heineken comes as no surprise to those familiar with his previous beer-related investments. In 2007, Gates made a $392 million purchase of a stake in FEMSA. But FEMSA sold its brewery to Heineken in 2010, leading Gates to redirect his investment toward the Dutch brewing giant. Now, with his significant stake in Heineken, Gates solidifies his position in the global beer market.

Despite his substantial investments, Bill Gates has been open about his personal preference when it comes to beer. In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, Gates wrote, “I am not a big beer drinker.” He shared that when attending events such as baseball games, he opts for light beer to blend in with fellow beer enthusiasts, apologizing to “real beer drinkers” who may have expected a different response.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (AB InBev), which owns Budweiser, is facing its own challenges. A boycott initiated by conservative activists has resulted in a 15.39% decline in AB InBev’s stock in the last month. The decline wiped out over $17 billion of the company’s market value. 

According to May 30 reports, Bud Light sales have experienced their worst week ever, plummeting by 25.7%. This follows a previous week’s decline of 24.6% and marks the sixth consecutive week of decreasing sales since transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s endorsement of Bud Light on April 1. According to Fox Business, the company’s market value has dropped $27 billion in total so far as shares near a bear market.

Although Bill Gates isn’t a beer enthusiast, his strategic investments in the industry are gaining significant attention. As Heineken deals with divesting FEMSA, and Anheuser-Busch InBev faces the repercussions of the boycott, it is evident that the beer industry is heavily influenced by ever-changing consumer sentiments and external factors.

Whether a fan of Heineken or Budweiser, a social drinker or a non-drinker, anyone can take inspiration from Gates and invest wisely. 

The Alcohol Industry

Anheuser-Busch’s decline marks a stark contrast from other popular alcohol brands right now. Many of Budlights competitors are not only seeing a substantial bump due to the popular company’s decline, but saw massive stock spikes following the boycotts. For example, companies like Molson Coor Beverage Co. TAP are up 18% in the past 12 months, including a 15% rally in April alone. The company makes the popular beer brands “Coors” and “Molson.” Similarly, Miller Industries Inc. MLR is up a staggering 36% in the past 12 months.

In the startups market, brands have also seen substantial traction. For example, BarGlance is a nightlife tech startup that allows bar-goers to see a ‘heat map’ of bars in their city and see the best bars in any city. The company has already seen considerable investments from retail investors.

On platforms like StartEngine, alcohol is one of the most popular investments. Island Brands, for example, has raised over $1.6 million from 1350+ investors. Copperworks Distilling Company has raised over $398,000 from 212 retail investors. Hercules Mulligan is nearing $500,000 raised from nearly 450 retail investors.

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