Reports said that Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. have an agreement in place to takeover five Eastern European beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV worth EUR7.3 billion or $7.8 billion, the latest major foreign deal by a Japanese food-and-drink company that has recently find it hard at home.
Meanwhile AB InBev had reportedly put the assets on the table as part of its positive plan to win regulatory approval for its merger with SABMiller an agreement that was finalized in October.
With these five brands, comprising the likes of Pilsener Urquell, will give more global importance to Japan’s Asahi, which is one of the top beer-makers in its home market but only a small player internationally.
The agreement didn’t impressed some investors with a bad taste because of the surprisingly high price tag. Asahi earlier said it had planned about $3 billion to $4 billion for foreign purchases, but it was made to devote double that amount to defeat bidders including private-equity firm Bain Capital.
“Asahi is heading in the right direction by expanding overseas, but the price seems too expensive,” said Masayuki Kubota, chief strategist at Rakuten Securities. “Investors will be watching whether Asahi can offer a reasonable explanation about the high price.”
Meanwhile Asahi spokesman said the price tag was similar to other recent brew deals. The company said Pilsner Urquell grips the top spot as far as market share in the Czech Republic, which it said was the world’s largest beer-drinking country on a per-capita basis. The company said the brands would establish Asahi as a “global player that leverages its strengths originating in Japan.”
Furthermore the agreement is the second-largest on record in the food and beverage industry by a Japanese firm after Suntory Holdings Ltd.’s $16 billion deal for U.S. liquor maker Beam Inc. in 2014.
In the past Asahi took over some of the top European beer brands, including Peroni and Grolsch, for reported EUR2.55 billion from SABMiller, in another divestiture made to get regulatory permission.