Asahi snaps up top beer brands for €7.3bn

"Anheuser-Busch InBev is pleased to announce that it has entered into a binding agreement with Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd.to sell the businesses formerly owned by SABMiller Limited in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania for an agreed enterprise value of Euro 7.3 billion, subject to customary adjustments", the statement read.

Asahi, which needs to offset a weak home market, said the purchase would allow it to generate almost a quarter of sales from overseas, up from 16 percent in October.

The move is another global play for Asahi, which had acquired Italian brand Peroni and Dutch beer maker Grolsch from SABMiller in October 2016 for $2.84 billion, in an attempt to strengthen its business outside of its struggling home market. The company said the brands would establish Asahi as a "global player that leverages its strengths originating in Japan".

Asahi's latest purchase would be the biggest ever acquisition of a foreign beer operation by a Japanese brewer and the biggest acquisition by a Japanese brewer since Suntory Holdings Ltd bought Beam for almost $14 billion in January 2014.

"They've been very tough (markets) and profits have been declining, not growing", Stirling said, although the rising popularity of premium and craft beers offers scope for growth.

It is the second biggest acquisition by a Japanese brewer on record, behind brewer and distiller Suntory Holdings Ltd's near $14 billion purchase of Beam in January 2014.

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Asahi's statement did not say how the deal would be funded.

Much like that deal, this sale was a condition of the European Commission's approval of AB InBev's acquisition of SABMiller.

Despite the high price tag for its Europe purchases, Asahi might continue to hunt for deals.

Under the terms of transaction, Asahi would take over AB InBev operations in 5 countries in central and eastern Europe which were owned by SABMiller prior to its acquisition by AB InBev.

Vietnam's government has invited investment banks to pitch for a mandate to sell a stake in Sabeco worth at least $1.8 billion, according to people familiar with the situation, starting what could be the largest sale of a Vietnamese state-run company.

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