Peru president-elect to name beer company CEO as PM

Fernando Zavala as Peru's prime ministerial candidate might help president-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (pictured) patch up rifts with the Popular Force party. Photograph:( Getty )

Reuters Lima, Peru Jul 09, 2016, 04.40 AM (IST)
Centrist Peruvian President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski will appoint Fernando Zavala, the outgoing chief executive of a beer company, to be his prime minister when he takes office on July 28, a source said on Friday.

Zavala, a 45-year-old trained economist, has headed Peru's biggest brewery, Union de Cervecerias Peruanas Backus Y Johnston SAA, for the past three years. He was finance minister for a year starting in 2005 when Kuczynski served as prime minister under then-president Alejandro Toledo.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not yet been made, said Zavala had accepted Kuczynski's offer.

"It's mentioned but is not confirmed," Kuczynski told reporters in response, according to newspaper El Comercio.

Kuczynski's office did not respond to requests for comment. Kuczynski has said he will announce his pick for prime minister on Sunday and other Cabinet positions on July 15. Zavala did not respond to a request for confirmation.

Zavala, a widely respected business leader who has blogged about his desire to improve education and innovation, might help Kuczynski patch up rifts with the conservative party of his defeated run-off rival Keiko Fujimori, Popular Force, which will hold a majority of seats in the incoming Congress.

"I personally have a very high opinion of Zavala," said Luz Salgado, a Popular Force lawmaker. "I think he is much more coherent" than Kuczynski.

Kuczynski, a 77-year-old former investment banker, came under fire on Friday for calling for a march on Congress to help him press opposition lawmakers to reopen a polymetallic smelter, part of his plans to add value to Peru's key mineral exports.

Kuczynski and Zavala worked together closely in Toledo's Cabinet for three years when Zavala was deputy economy minister and Kuczynski finance minister.

Backus, as the beer company is known, is a subsidiary of SABMiller, which is in the process of being acquired by Anheuser-Busch Inbev.