Japan's Asahi Group Holdings says it will buy five eastern European beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev for 7.3 billion euros ($7.8 billion), in the largest purchase of a foreign beer operation by a Japanese brewer. Hayley Platt reports
Japanese brewer Asahi has been shopping in Europe. It already owns Italy's Peroni and Dutch beer Grolsch. Now it wants to add a further five brands from Eastern Europe in a deal worth 7.3 billion euros. The news pushed shares down more than 6 percent before recovering slightly - investors nervous over how the deal would be funded. Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed to sell the brands. They include the Czech market leader Pilsner, Poland's Tyskie and Lech and Hungary's Dreher. The move is designed to ease clearance from competition regulators following its $100 billion takeover of SABMiller in October. It will also give Asahi about 9 percent of the European beer market, excluding Russia. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY INTERNATIONAL, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "The Japanese brewing industry is suffering from demographics in Japan. Essentially the population is shrinking, the volume of beer sales in Japan has fallen dramatically over the last 20 years or so from 570 million cases to 420 million cases approximately, that's a huge contraction. So what the Japanese brewers are doing, they're looking overseas to buy in the growth." The deal is expected to close in the first half of next year. And will be the largest international beer deal by a Japanese brewer.