South African Breweries is a major brewery based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was a wholly-owned subsidiary of SABMiller until its interests. Bobinski, Christopher and Roderick Oram, “South African Breweries in Polish Acquisition”, Financial Times, October 2, 1996, p. Various German interests established breweries in Botswana and Swaziland in a failed attempt to gain a foothold in South Africa. Josh Woods drinks a pressed lemon shaped like a flying fish from South African breweries in the Pilanesburg Game Reserve.
Several brewing companies attempted to challenge SAB's dominant position in the South African market. In August 1997, Kahn was appointed executive director of the South African police service, becoming the first civilian to hold the position. The company has an impressive 98 percent share of the beer market in its home country, South Africa, where it sells 14 beer brands, including local Castle and Lion beers, as well as foreign brands manufactured under Heineken, Guinness, Amstel and Carling Black Label licenses. Beer consumption in South Africa fell for the first time in history and everything indicates that it will continue to decline.
When Glass medic, an American windshield repair and replacement company, was acquired in 1990, the South African parent company merged the subsidiaries under the name Belron International. Beer is the main source of profits, but stakes in complementary beverages, retail, hotels, and the manufacture and supply of selected consumer goods and services, along with strategic investments in companies that support core interests, offer an important balance. An example of this was National Sorghum Breweries (NSB), a black business consortium founded in 1990 and the first new player in the beer industry in more than 10 years. Dirk Bunge drinks a flying fish, lemon pressed by South African breweries at the Kupferquelle & Dros restaurant.
The company's history was also heavily influenced by the apartheid system and its effect on the national economy, on domestic companies and on foreign investment in South Africa. In 1955, the South African government introduced a heavy tax on beer products, which caused many consumers to switch to spirits. South African Breweries responded by acquiring Union Wine, an independent alcoholic beverage retailer with 24 hotels and more than 50 outlets. Partly in response to this threat and partly as a response to the easing of laws on foreign investment, South African breweries led by Kahn expanded aggressively outside their home country starting in 1993. The company suffered a severe financial crisis in 1966, when Whitbread and Heineken entered the South African beer market.