Beer Legend Passes

Graham Mackay, who turned the South African company South African Breweries into SABMiller, died on Wednesday in England at the age of 64.

Mackay had been battling a brain tumor since April.

Mackay, who was chief operating executive at SAB in the mid-90’s, was the driving force in expanding SAB’s growth internationally by acquiring floundering breweries throughout Eastern Europe, Asia, India and Central America.

In 1999 the company moved its headquarters to London and Mackay was promoted to chief executive. The same year, it purchased the Czech brewer Plzensky Prazdroj, brewer of US distributed Pilsner Urquell.

In 2002, amidst merger mania in the international brewing industry, the US beer market was stunned when SAB merged with the Miller Brewing Company to form SABMiller. The merger with Coors followed in 2008.

Mackay became chairman of the company in 2012, but stepped down in April 2013 due to his illness.