Bill Gates has bet on Bud Light’s return after the tech mogul bought 1.7 million shares from the disgraced brand’s parent company.
The 67-year-old Microsoft founder acquired Bud Light shares through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust in the second quarter of this year.
The shares have a market value of around $95 million, reports TipRanks.
His investment comes as the Anheuser-Busch companies are still reeling from their partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney on April 1. The videos and images posted by her caused a nationwide beer boycott.
This is not the first time Gates has invested in the global beer industry.
The 67-year-old Microsoft founder acquired the shares through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust in the second quarter of this year. The shares have a market value of approximately $95 million
It all started with Mulvaney, 26, sharing a video with her 10.8 million Instagram followers of her opening a can of Bud Light on April 1.
Gates invested $939.87 million in Heineken stock at the start of the Bud Light controversy after their disastrous partnership with Mulvaney.
It acquired 10.8 million shares on Feb. 17, according to the Dutch Financial Markets Authority filing.
And earlier, in 2007, Gates bought a $392 million stake in FEMSA, whose brewery was sold to Heineken in 2010.
Bud Light saw its sales plummet even further due to lingering backlash over its disastrous collaboration with trans influencer Mulvaney.
The beer giant lost its position as the number one beer brand in the United States to Modelo Especial due to controversy, a position it held for more than 22 years.
As of Aug. 19, Bud Light sales at offsite stores such as grocery stores and gas stations have fallen 15.9 percent in dollars and 20.1 percent in volume over the past year.
By contrast, sales of rival brand Modelo Especial surged, with the beer up 10.3 percent in sales and 9.6 percent in volume.
Bump Williams, director of data firm Bump Williams Consulting, which tracks recent data with NielsenIQ, said Modelo beat out Bud Light as the top-selling beer thanks to its sales at convenience stores.
In total, organic volume in the second quarter of 2023 fell 1.4% year-on-year, with a 14% decline in North America.
But at the same time, the Asia-Pacific region has seen growth.
Sarah Simon, analyst at Morgan Stanley, told TipRanks: “After a successful execution thanks to Covid, 2023 saw ABI suffer a substantial loss of market share in the United States, mainly due to consumer boycotts of its Bud brand. Light.
“While making very negative headlines, ABI’s exposure to emerging markets limits the impact of the loss in US equities.
“After one-time costs in 2023, we expect profitability growth to resume in 2024, with strong cash flow growth leading to leverage up to the 2.0x target, enabling both an increase in the distribution rate as well as the resumption of share buybacks from 2026.
“The current valuation does not reflect this advantage, in our view.”
Bud Light has been accused of alienating its traditional clientele by associating itself with Mulvaney, leading many conservatives – including Kid Rock – to boycott the brand.
Rock had decided to stack crates of Bud Light beer on a table and use them as shooting practice in a video that went viral.
Rock’s comment of “f*** Bud Light” as the cans were sprayed into the air was the opposite of what the marketing team had in mind when they decided to partner with Mulvaney.
Other celebrities have joined Kid Rock in criticizing the partnership, with country singers John Rich and Travis Tritt publicly denouncing the brand. Beer lovers in Marietta, Georgia, Tritt’s hometown, soon followed suit and began drinking Coors Light instead of Bud Light in the wake of the controversy.
And the Bud Light executives’ nightmare didn’t end there.
Millions of customers abandoned the American brand within days of Mulvaney’s social media posts, and dozens filmed themselves pouring the beer down the sink and throwing the cans in the trash cans.
And as the polarization has spread to bars across America, with patrons trading insults and recriminations over each other’s beer choices, some bar owners have said they will stop selling Bud. Light simply to avoid fights.