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Brahma versus Antarctica: Reversal of Fortune in Brazil’s Beer Market

By Donald Sull


The case is set in June 1999 as Marcel Telles, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Companhia Cervejaria Brahma (Brahma) – the largest brewer in Brazil – considers a possible merger with the Antarctica Group (Antarctica), the second-largest Brazilian brewer. If the merger were to be completed, the combined firm would control 75% of Brazil’s beer market and forecast pro forma revenues of over $US2.8 billion. The case provides a concise overview of the Brazilian beer market and Brazil’s volatile macroeconomic and regulatory context, and summarises the century-long rivalry between Brahma and Antarctica. For a century after their founding, Antarctica led Brahma in terms of market share, profitability, new product introductions and management innovations, although the two brewers were roughly comparable in size. Under Telles’ leadership, however, Brahma pulled ahead of its rival in the span of a decade. The case explores the reasons for this dramatic reversal of fortune and describes in detail the actions Telles and his top management team took to change Brahma’s culture, set and execute operational improvements, and create real options for future revenue streams.

Learning objectives

Positioning and teaching objectives

Leading strategic transformation: The Brahma case is taught at London Business School in a second-year general management elective entitled Leading Strategic Transformation that explores how managers overcome corporate inertia to improve competitive and financial performance. In this course, the case was used primarily to illustrate the following issues:

1. The difference between a turnaround and transformation;
2. The role of the leader in driving transformation;
3. Leading a strategic transformation without a long-term vision; and
4. Incorporating transformation into post-merger integration.


Publication Date: January 2005
LBS Case Code: CS-04-015
Subjects: , , ,
Industry: , ,
Pages: 30
Format: pdf