Asahi eyes Peroni and Grolsch as SABMiller prepares to merge with AB-InBev

12 January, 2016

Japanese brewer Asahi is mulling over a £2.4 billion bid for SABMiller brands Grolsch and Peroni.

AB-InBev is planning to offload the two European beer brands as part of its proposed £71 billion acquisition of brewer SABMiller.

The sale of these brands would help the brewer to avoid competition concerns, as its European portfolio already includes brands such as Corona and Stella Artois.  

John Coley, professor of practice in the Strategy and International Business Group, said: “Following the acquisition of SAB Miller by AB InBev for $106 billion we are starting to see the regulatory fall out as disposals become necessary to appease the competition authorities. Becoming the world's biggest brewer with 30% of the global market still requires regulatory approval.”

If Asahi is successful in its bid for the two brands it would give the brewer a strong platform for it to expand into Europe, according to industry analysts. It could also mark the biggest overseas beverage acquisition by a Japanese company, potentially topping Kirin’s $3.3 billion takeover of Australia’s Lion Nathan in 2009, according to the Tokyo-based newspaper Yomiuri Shimbu.

Coley added: “Worldwide rights to Miller were sold to MillerCoors for $12 billion and now more of the family silver in Grolsch and Peroni appears to be going to Asahi for $3.4 billion. This is all value lost from the deal as these prices pro rata are well below the 40% pre-bid premium paid for SAB Miller.

“The Snow brand in China may well be the next under the hammer. While a necessity for AB InBev, this looks a good deal for Asahi.”

Asahi is Japan’s biggest brewer with a 38% share of its domestic market. At present its beers are not widely distributed overseas, although its flagship Super Dry beer has become popular in many European markets.

“Clearly this signals global ambitions for Asahi as it will give them a strong position in many developed markets,” said Coley. “Access to distribution through these two premium brands and relatively local brewing will mean that Asahi's own range of Super Dry ales can be introduced to a wider distribution. Good news for the beer drinker as it may well lead to more choice and more competition."

Other potential buyers for the two brands include Heineken, Molson Coors and C&C Group. Bids from private equity firms are also expected.

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