Ex AB InBev chief Carlos Brito to lead Carglass parent Belron (Update)

Carlos Brito, the former CEO of Belgian beer giant AB InBev will become CEO of Carglass parent Belron. Belgian group D’Ieteren, which owns just over half of Belron, announced this on Wednesday. Quite a lot of analysts think that Brito has also been hired to prepare an IPO of the very successful glass provider

Belron is indeed a specialist in auto glass repair and replacement, with market-leading brands including Carglass, Satellite, and Autoglass. After a two-month handover period, Brito will take office in March as the top executive of Belron, headquartered in the UK. The 62-year-old Brazilian will then succeed Gary Lubner, who has been CEO since 2000 and will remain a board member.

“I am delighted to welcome Carlos Brito to Belron. He is one of the greatest business leaders of his generation, and his appointment reflects the fantastic work Gary Lubner and his team have done to develop Belron over the past 22 years,” said Nicolas D’Ieteren, chairman of both the D’Ieteren Group and Belron.

D’Ieteren’s engine

Belron operates in 37 countries, posted a turnover of 4,65 billion euros in 2021, and an operating profit of 815 million euros. The entire company, which employs some 30 000 people, was still valued at 21 billion euros last year.

Belron, the engine for listed D’Ieteren in recent years, is expected to see annual sales growth of nearly 10% in the next few years and a profit margin of more than 23% by 2025.

More volumes at an average higher price are the main explanation. Belron also has operations in Ukraine and Russia, but these have been discontinued due to the war. “They represent only a small fraction of our turnover,” says D’Ieteren, known, among other things, as the Belgian importer of the brands of Volkswagen and, most recently, for their investments in bicycle shops.

Apart from D’Ieteren, other shareholders include US investment firm Clayton, Dubilier Rice (CD&R), investment funds Hellman & Friedman and BlackRock, and Singaporean fund GIC.

From brewer to car glass repairer

Carlos Brito worked for the Belgian-Brazilian beer giant AB InBev for 32 years, including 15 years as CEO – from 2005 to mid-2021. He built the company through a series of acquisitions to become the brewer of about a third of beers worldwide.

But the high debt ratio, especially since the multibillion-dollar take-over of SABMiller in 2016, had increasingly worried investors. There had long been speculation of a departure, which finally came in May last year. As recently as September, he was awarded the Belgian medal of Grand Officer on the Order of the Crown.

Going IPO

Now, Brito seems ready for a new challenge and this could well be bringing Belron to the stock market. Until now, Belron is still owned by private shareholders, D’Ieten being the biggest with just over 50%. But in 2018 it sold 40% to the investment company Clayton, Dubilier, and Rice (CD&R) but they sold half of their shares to another consortium led by BlackRock last year.

A growing number of analysts think that Belron is becoming too big to stay private and that it’s time to bring it into public. Belron is very strong in Europe and the States but almost non-existent in Asia. Dealmaker Brito can introduce Belron ver there and attract at the same time Asian investors with an IPO.

Parting CEO Lubner said at the beginning of 2022 at an analyst event that the future of Belron’s growth is situated in Asia.  The car glass market has become mature over there, a conditio sine qua non for car glass specialists and repairers like Belron to be successful.

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