What to Watch: $11 billion beer deal, RBS CEO heads for Australia, and BMW's new boss

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Australia's iconic Victoria Bitter beer, which has been sold as part of a deal between AB InBev and Asahi. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Here are the top business, market and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and abroad:

$11bn beer deal

Beer giant AB InBev (ABI.BR) has agreed to sell its Australian business to Japan’s Asahi (2502.T) for $11.3bn.

The sale of Carlton & United Breweries, which makes Australia’s iconic Victoria Bitters, is expected to close at the start of next year.

AB InBev, which makes beers like Stella Artois and Budweiser, said in the statement announcing the deal that it was still weighing the potential for a stock market listing of its Asian business to help fund expansion.

“We continue to see great potential for our business in APAC and the region remains a growth engine within our company,” Carlos Brito, chief executive officer of AB InBev, said.

“With our unparalleled portfolio of brands, strong commercial plans, and talented people, we are uniquely positioned to capture opportunities for growth across the APAC region.”

RBS CEO heads for Australia

Ross McEwan, the outgoing chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), has been appointed the next boss of the National Australia Bank (NAB.AX).

New Zealand-born McEwan, who announced plans to leave in April, will remain in place at RBS until a successor has been appointed, the bank said.

“We … congratulate him on this appointment. The search for a successor remains ongoing and the effective date of Ross’ departure will be confirmed in due course,” RBS chairman Howard Davies said.

“Ross McEwan is the ideal leader for NAB as we seek to transform our operations and culture firmly around leading customer service, experience, and products,” NAB chairman-elect Philip Chronican said.

BMW appoint new boss

BMW (BMW.DE) appointed longtime company man Oliver Zipse as its new chief executive late on Thursday night.

Zipse, who joined the car maker in 1991, is currently board member for production at the company.

BMW chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer said Zipse “will provide the BMW Group with fresh momentum in shaping the mobility of the future.”

He replaces Harald Kruger, who resigned after four years in the role and 27 years with the company at the start of the month.

Boeing takes £3.9bn hit on 737 Max

Boeing (BA) is booking a $4.9bn (£3.9bn) charge over the grounding of its 737 Max jets, the company said on Thursday.

The money will be set aside to cover possible compensation to airlines that have cancelled thousands of flights since 737 Max jets around the world were grounded following two deadly accidents.

Revenue will also be cut by $5.6bn (£4.5bn) in the second quarter as a result of the grounding, Boeing said.

ITV and BBC sign BritBox deal

ITV (ITV.L) and the BBC’s new Netflix-like streaming service BritBox will cost £5.99 a month and launch in the UK later this year, the two companies announced on Friday.

ITV and the BBC said on Friday that they had officially signed a deal to launch BritBox in the UK. The pair first announced they were in talks to bring the streaming service, which is already offered in the US, to the UK in February.

The pricing means BritBox will undercut rivals Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN) Prime Video on price as ITV and BBC look to catch up in the global streaming wars. Both Netflix and Prime Video cost £7.99 a month in the UK. As part of the deal, ITV and BBC are also expected to remove their content from the rival platforms.

Pick-up for coffee shop owner

The company behind airport and train station cafe chains Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza saw sales grow by 9.2% in the three months to 30 June.

SSP (SSPG.L) said like-for-like sales grew by 2% and business in the UK was stronger in airports than railway stations. There was slower growth in China and India, with the latter market hit by the collapse of the country’s Jet Airways.

SSP said the boost in sales was due to an increase in passenger numbers, but cautioned that some airports had been impacted by the grounding of Boeing’s Max 737 aircraft.

European markets

European markets were rising on Friday, largely in reaction to comments made by decision makers in the US overnight.

“A comment from New York Federal Reserve President John Williams, who’s argument that ‘it’s better to deal with the short-term pain of a shot than to take the risk that they’ll contract a disease later on’ was taken as a sign that the central bank is preparing a deep rate cut, even if Williams later clarified that those comments were ‘not about potential policy actions,’” Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said.

“Add onto this Steven Mnuchin saying that, unlike what was reported by the WSJ, Huawei was not a sticking point between the US and China, and that a phone call was set for last night, and the European markets could take back some of the ground lost this week.”

Britain’s FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was up by 0.6%, the Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) was up by 0.7%, France’s CAC 40 (^FCHI) was up by 0.7%, and the Euronext 100 (^N100) was up by 0.9%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) closed up by 2%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) was up by 1.1%, and China’s Shanghai Composite index (000001.SS) was up by 0.7%.

What to expect in the US

Futures were pointing to a strong open later in the US.

S&P500 futures (ES=F) were up by 0.3%, Dow Jones futures (YM=F) were up by 0.4%, and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) were up by 0.4%.

Companies reporting later today in the US include:

  • American Express (AXP)

  • BlackRock (BLK)

  • State Street (STT])