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Graham Mackay, Who Built SABMiller Into Global Brewing Powerhouse, Dies At 64

December 18, 2013

Graham Mackay, who built SABMiller into a global brewing giant during his long tenure at the company’s helm, died earlier today. He was 64.

Mackay stepped down as SABMiller’s CEO in April, following surgery for a brain tumor. He rejoined the brewer as non-executive chairman in early September, but was forced to cede that role last month as his health grew worse.

Mackay, a South African native, was hired by South African Breweries in 1978 to help streamline the company’s computer systems. Over the next two decades, Mackay ascended SAB’s corporate ladder before being named managing director in 1997. At the time, the brewer was a dominant force in its home market, but lacked a significant presence outside it. However, two years later, when Mackay was CEO, he began fueling the company’s international expansion, first by listing it in London in 1999.

In the following years, Mackay made blockbuster deals that transformed SAB into a leading player in China, Latin America, Australia, and, in 2002—when it acquired Miller Brewing Co. from Philip Morris to become SABMiller—the U.S. Last year, SABMiller was the world’s second-biggest brewer, with group revenue of around $35 billion. Since 1999, SABMiller’s share price has risen more than sixfold.

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