Asahi completes CUB acquisition
Asahi has officially taken over Australia’s biggest brewer Carlton and United Breweries.
Asahi Beverages chairman Peter Margin said it was an “exciting time” for the group as it embarks on the next chapter, taking over from Belgian drinks giant AB InBev in what the latter called one of its most profitable markets globally.
Before the deal, Asahi previously held approximately 30 per cent of the cider market, and 3.5 per cent of the beer market in Australia. The completion of the $16 billion deal marks the Japanese firm’s takeover of AB InBev’s 48.8 per cent market share.
“The acquisition of CUB will mean that Asahi Beverages is able to offer customers and consumers an even broader range of great tasting beverages with the addition of some of Australia’s most popular and well-loved beer brands,” Margin said.
CUB insisted that it would continue to operate “in much the same way as it does today” becoming a business division alongside Asahi Premium Beverages, Asahi Lifestyle Beverages and Asahi Beverages NZ.
However the sale remains dependent on stipulations from the ACCC that Asahi offload a number of cider and beer brands including Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green, as well as Stella Artois and Beck’s.
As part of the deal, AB InBev granted Asahi rights to commercialise AB InBev’s portfolio of international brands in Australia. All of the proceeds from the divestiture of the Australian business will be used by AB InBev to pay down debt.
The initial acceptance of the CUB deal by the ACCC was met with mixed reviews from the industry, with the Independent Brewers Association declaring it was a “blow to the industry” whilst Cider Australia was more positive.
The deal has led to questions over the state of tap contracts. Asahi, owner of Mountain Goat and Cricketers Arms was often being brought in as a third tap player in major pubs and hotels.
The IBA said subsequently that tap contracts would be a major issue on its agenda going forward once the COVID-19 crisis is over.
Recent reports suggest that if the IBA choose to do so, law changes in late 2017 following the closure of the original case on tap contracts by the ACCC could give a new argument weight.
ACCC clears AB InBev to buy SAB Miller, then the other major player alongside Lion in the Australian beer market and owner of CUB.
After a three-year investigation, ACCC declines to take forward case on tap contracts.
May: AB InBev announces it wants to spin off its Asia Pacific business through an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
July: AB InBev cancels an expensive IPO under the Budweiser Asia Pacific spin-off, which would have included CUB. Asahi announces its intentions to acquire Carlton and United Breweries and details emerge of the $16 billion deal.
August: ACCC calls for submissions from the industry into the deal.
December: ACCC raises concerns about the deal saying it would reduce competition in the cider market and may also do so in the beer market.
February: Asahi offers to ditch three cider and two beer brands to make the deal more palatable to the ACCC.
April: ACCC approves acquisition of CUB by Asahi. IBA criticises the deal whilst Cider Australia welcomes the changed terms.
May: Foreign Investment Review Board approves the sale of CUB to Asahi
June: Asahi acquisition of CUB completed