December 15

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Asahi To Buy Pilsner Urquell From AB InBev

Pilsner Urquell beerImage copyright Bloomberg

Japanese brewer Asahi has agreed to buy five Eastern European beer brands in a deal worth €7.3bn (£6.1bn).

Anheuser-Busch InBev had agreed to sell the brands, which include Pilsner Urquell, Tyskie and Kozel, to help get clearance from competition regulators for its $100bn takeover of SABMiller.

It would be Asahi’s biggest acquisition to date and its latest in Europe, which is its second largest market.

Earlier this year, Asahi bought Peroni and Grolsch from SABMiller.

‘Premium brands’

Many Japanese firms are on the lookout for opportunities to buy firms overseas, because domestic conditions – including deflation, weak consumer spending and a falling population – make Japan an increasingly hard place to make profits.

Asahi said it was trying to establish itself as a global player, mainly focusing on a “leading premium brand portfolio”.

The deal will see Asahi buy businesses formerly owned by SABMiller in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

It will own the Polish brand Lech and Hungary’s Dreher as well as the rights to sell certain other brands around the world.

Asahi said the deal had synergies with its existing European brands and would enhance its “cash generating power” .

But shares in the brewer fell on the news, closing 4.6% lower in Tokyo.

The deal is subject to European Commission approval but is expected to be completed in the first half of 2017.