Japan's Asahi to acquire Plzeňský Prazdroj

Sale is to facilitate the merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller

Japanese brewery Asahi Group Holding has reached an agreement to acquire Plzeňský Prazdroj and other Eastern European brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev. The acquisition for €7.3 billion is the largest in Asahi's history. The other brands are Polish brand Tyskie and Lech, Slovak brand Topvar, Hungarian brand Dreher and Romanian brand Ursus. The deal still needs approval from the European Commission and is likely to be finalized in the first part of 2017.

Asahi reportedly submitted the highest bid for the brands, and reportedly beat Czech and Slovak bidders such as PPF Group and J&T as well Swiss investment firm Jacobs Holding and China Resources. The brands were expected to go for some €6.4 billion.

The sale was made to get clearance from regulators and facilitate the €1 billion merger of Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller.

Europe is Asahi's second-largest market. Asahi bought Peroni and Grolsch from SABMiller earlier this year for €2.55 billion, which were also sold to facilitate the merger.

Asahi is attempting to leverage its position in Japan to become a global player with a portfolio of premium brands and is reportedly still looking for more brands to acquire. Asahi in 2012 had unsuccessfully tried to purchase Pivovar Staropramen, which makes Asahi Super Dry beer under license for the European market.

According to statistics from 2015, Asahi had a 1.2 percent global share of the beer market, while Anheuser-Busch InBev has 20.8 percent and SABMiller had 9.7 percent. Asahi was founded in 1889 in Osaka, Japan, and has a 28 percent share of the local market. Beer consumption in Japan has been falling recently, though, due to the aging population.

South African Breweries acquired Plzeňský Prazdroj in 1999. Anheuser-Busch InBev got control of the brand in October due to the merger.

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