Like almost everything in modern-day South Africa, it all began in the mines. By DAILY MAVERICK CHRONICLE.
SABMiller’s official story, honed by sepia-tinted apartheid-era advertising campaigns, credits master brewer Charles Glass with the creation of Castle Lager during the Johannesburg gold rush. In the mid-1880s, Glass founded the Castle Brewery, which in 1895 would become South African Breweries, and two years later the first industrialised company to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Head offices, however, were in London, and the company also listed on the London Stock Exchange—South African Breweries, it turned out, were South African in name only. The company, always a binge shopper, bought everything: rival breweries, bottling plants, soft drink companies, major retailers, while establishing the Southern Sun Hotel Corporation. By the 1960s, the minute percentage of the South African beer market that SAB didn’t own was likely not worth the effort.
But if apartheid proved lucrative—and it most certainly did—what came next was a veritable bonanza.
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Photo: Bartender serves a beer produced by brewing company SAB Miller at a bar in Cape Town, September 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings