Bill Gates shakes up the beer industry with a million-dollar investment in Heineken

Bill Gates
Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, during a panel session on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. The annual Davos gathering of political leaders, top executives and celebrities runs from May 22 to 26. Photographer: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg via Getty Images


  • Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has bought a significant stake in Heineken Holding NV.
  •  The company that owns Budweiser is facing difficulties after a boycott initiated by conservative activists.
  •  Despite not being a big beer drinker, Gates has made strategic investments in the beer industry.

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and billionaire, continues to cause a stir with his recent foray into the beer industry. Gates has grabbed the headlines by acquiring a substantial stake in Heineken Holding NV, a Dutch company valued at nearly a billion dollars.

The transaction, which took place on February 17, involved Gates acquiring 10.8 million shares valued at $939.87 million, according to the Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets (AFM) filing. The acquisition coincided with the significant sale of Heineken shares by FEMSA, the company’s main Mexican shareholder. The timely investment comes shortly before the controversy surrounding Anheuser-Busch continues to grow.

Gates’ interest in Heineken comes as no surprise to those familiar with his previous beer-related investments. In 2007, Gates made a $392 million purchase of a stake in FEMSA. But FEMSA sold its brewery to Heineken in 2010, prompting Gates to redirect investment from him to the Dutch brewing giant. Now, with his significant stake in Heineken, Gates is solidifying his position in the global beer market.

Despite his considerable investments, Gates has been outspoken about his personal preference when it comes to beer. In an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, Gates wrote: “I’m not a big beer drinker.” He shared that when he attends events like baseball games, he opts for light beer to fit in with other beer enthusiasts, apologizing to “real beer drinkers” who might have expected a different response.

Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (AB InBev), which owns Budweiser, is facing challenges of its own. A boycott initiated by conservative activists has resulted in a 15.39% drop in AB InBev shares in the past month. The crash has wiped more than $17 billion off the company’s market value.

According to reports on May 30, Bud Light sales have experienced their worst week ever, falling 25.7%. This follows the previous week’s drop of 24.6% and marks the sixth straight week of sales decline since transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s endorsement of Bud Light on April 1. According to Fox Business, the company’s market value has fallen by a total of $27 billion so far, as the stock nears a bear market.

Although Gates is not a beer enthusiast, his strategic investments in the industry are receiving significant attention. As Heineken works to divest FEMSA, and Anheuser-Busch InBev grapples with the fallout from the boycott, it is clear that the beer industry is heavily influenced by changing consumer preferences and external factors.