Brewer AB InBev loses comms chief Mike Kelly

The world's largest brewer is currently without its UK public affairs director, as the alcohol industry attempts to face off calls for minimum pricing.

AB InBev: owns many world-famous beer brands
AB InBev: owns many world-famous beer brands

It has emerged that AB InBev’s senior corporate affairs director, global and UK, Mike Kelly left in late December, in a move that the brewer has described as being ‘by mutual agreement to seek new challenges’.

AB InBev did not reveal whether a search for a global replacement had yet begun.

Michelle Norman will continue to work as head of corporate affairs for the UK, with support from V-P of legal and corporate affairs for Western Europe Steve LeRoy.

Director, global external comms Laura Vallis said: ‘Mike had decided it was the right time to look for other challenges. He said it was a difficult decision.’

Kelly told PRWeek: ‘I’m currently looking for my next opportunity.’

The news comes as alcohol companies face a tough year of political maneuvering around proposals for minimum pricing for alcohol.

Senior figures in the European Union have this month stated that minimum pricing for alcohol is compatible with EU law, contradicting opponents of the proposal who have repeatedly argued that it would be illegal.

AB InBev’s use of lobbying was thrown into the spotlight last month, when Portland was accused of removing Stella Artois’ ‘wife beater’ nickname from Wikipedia.

Following the revelations about Portland’s Wikipedia use, the CIPR announced that it will work with Wikipedia to provide members with guidance on how to interact with the Wikipedia community.

Kelly joined AB InBev in 2008, initially as corporate affairs director. Previously he worked as public affairs manager at BAA, and as a researcher for the Labour Party.

AB InBev is the world’s largest brewer, with nearly 25 per cent global market share. It has more than 200 brands, including Beck’s, Budweiser, Stella Artois and Brahma.

The company employs around 116,000 people in more than 30 countries. Since it integrated with Anheuser-Busch, 45 per cent of the company’s sales come from North America.

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