Australian regulator to approve Asahi’s acquisition of local beer giant CUB
SYDNEY, NNA -- Australia’s antimonopoly watchdog is set to approve Japanese beverage giant Asahi Group Holdings Ltd.’s planned acquisition of local beer giant Carlton & United Breweries Pty. Ltd. (CUB) after Asahi offered to sell off some of CUB’s brands to help ensure fair competition.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement Wednesday the proposed acquisition “will not be opposed.” Asahi, it said, had “undertaken to divest two of its beer brands and three of its cider brands.”
Commission Chair Rod Sims gave the nod based on Asahi’s proposal to divest five CUB brands, including Stella Artois and Beck’s beer, the statement said.
Asahi proposed the takeover worth 16 billion Australian dollars ($9.7 billion) in 2019 as a way to expand globally.
“The (commission) was concerned that without the divestments, the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the cider market and remove a vigorous and effective competitor in the beer market,” the government body’s official website quotes Sims as saying.
“We determined that Asahi selling the beer and cider brands would be sufficient to address our competition concerns and provide an opportunity for another business to play an important role in a relatively concentrated industry.”
Even though Asahi has a relatively small share in the Australian beer market, the commission worried that the planned acquisition would eliminate a competitor for the country’s two largest beer brewers, CUB and Lion. Asahi and CUB are currently competing keenly in the sale of premium international beers, the commission found.
If the deal is approved, Asahi will acquire CUB headquartered in Abbotsford, a suburb of Melbourne from Anheuser-Busch InBev N.V., a giant global brewery firm based in Leuven, Belgium.
Founded in 1832 as Cascade Brewery, CUB makes beer under the labels Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught and Great Northern.
After the takeover, Asahi would use CUB’s marketing and product development strength to make procurement more efficiency. The group hopes to build a global market with Europe, Australia and Japan as hubs, the Japanese beverage group said.
Tokyo-based Asahi Group Holdings, founded in 1949, sells alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. It leads Japan in market share for beers at 48.9 percent, according to its website. One major brand is Asahi Super Dry.
Asahi announced on March 24 it had planned to acquire CUB shares in the first quarter of this year but put it off until the April-June quarter.