Asahi gets conditional Australia approval for $11b purchase of AB InBev unit

A bottle of Asahi on a tabletop in a restaurant in Shanghai. Photo by Bob Jansen

Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings Ltd won conditional approval from Australia’s competition regulator for its $11 billion purchase of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s domestic operations after agreeing to sell five beer and cider brands.

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on Wednesday it has approved the deal after Asahi gave a court-enforceable undertaking to sell AB InBev’s Stella Artois and Beck’s beer brands and the Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green cider brands.

An Asahi spokesman confirmed that the company agreed to the divestments for its planned purchase of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).

It said that the company was awaiting approval of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), and the deal was still expected to close in the second quarter of 2020.

“We will continue to cooperate closely with authorities towards an FIRB approval,” the spokesman said.

The deal was originally set to close in the first quarter.

The decision by the world’s largest brewer to sell CUB last summer was driven by its need to cut its debt burden after it bought SABMiller in 2016.

“Without the sale of five beer and cider brands including Strongbow and Stella Artois, the combined Asahi-CUB company would have accounted for two thirds of cider sales in Australia, and owned the two largest cider brands, Somersby and Strongbow,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a statement.

Also as part of the undertaking, Asahi will have to ensure the brands it sells get the same access to bars, pubs and clubs and off-premise space under tap-tying agreements as Asahi‘s brands for the next three years, the ACCC said.

The ACCC also said it will need to approve the future buyer of the beer and cider brands.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.