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MillerCoors Cuts 270 Jobs

MILAUKEE -- MillerCoors LLC, the U.S. joint venture between Miller Brewing and Molson Coors Brewing, cut approximately 270 jobs, including 100 positions here, as part of its goal of $500 million in cost savings over three years, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

The 100-position reduction in Milwaukee leaves around 800 jobs there, MillerCoors spokesman Julian Green told the paper. An additional 35 to 50 jobs will be cut within the next six months, he added.

In addition, another 150 to 175 jobs will be shifted from the Milwaukee offices to the new MillerCoors headquarters when it opens in downtown Chicago by June. The joint venture's eastern division and Great Lakes regional office will remain based in Milwaukee, the report stated.

As a result, the joint venture will have approximately 600 jobs in the area, compared with 900 one year earlier, according to the report.

Meanwhile, both Miller and Coors beer brands are being brewed at the combined company’s network of eight major breweries, Chief Executive Officer Leo Kiely said in remarks to industry analysts, cited by the paper. Changes at the breweries will be phased in over the next 18 months and will reduce shipping costs, he said.

In other beer news, net sales for St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. (A-B) during the third quarter 2008 increased 6.5 percent, while diluted earnings per share, excluding one-time items for both 2008 and 2007 comparable quarters, increased 10.5 percent, the company stated.

"Anheuser-Busch had an outstanding summer selling season, with record sales in the third quarter," August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Driven by the national introduction of Bud Light Lime, U.S. beer shipments-to-wholesalers increased 2.3 percent, while sales-to-retailers were up 3.6 percent on a selling day adjusted basis.”

The company’s Bud Light brand and super-premium Michelob Ultra family also made growth contributions, as did new products like Chelada and Landshark, he added. Import brands contributed 20 basis points of growth to beer shipments, and A-B’s equity partner brands volume grew 3.7 percent during the third quarter, thanks to Tsingtao and Modelo volume growth.

The U.S. beer pricing environment was favorable throughout the key summer selling season for A-B, which implemented price increases tailored to selected markets, brands and packages on approximately 85 percent of the company's domestic volume in September and October.

Commodity cost pressures continued during the quarter, but are being mitigated by cost savings initiatives, while the company was able to expand U.S. beer gross margins in the quarter.
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