Japan's Asahi considering bid for Grolsch, Peroni: source

Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:25am EST
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By Ritsuko Shimizu

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Asahi Group Holdings (2502.T: Quote) is considering acquiring Grolsch and Peroni, two beer brands owned by SABMiller PLC SAB.L, to secure growth beyond a saturated and ageing home market, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Known for its Super Dry beer, Asahi is Japan's biggest brewer with 38 percent market share but it is not widely sold overseas, where the planned merger of SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev is set to create a globally dominant player.

Grabbing premium foreign brands discarded in the AB InBev-SABMiller merger would give Asahi access to growth outside Japan, which has seen two decades of declining beer sales due to a shrinking population and the growing popularity of wine.

"The two brands have a high presence in developed markets, and there's very little risk that financial results will deteriorate following a deal," Nomura Securities analyst Satoshi Fujiwara said.

"If they can use the sales channels of the two brands to expand distribution of its Super Dry beers, which have done well in international beer competitions, then we should also be able to see some synergies as well."

Asahi's earnings growth would be limited to about 2 percent to 3 percent a year without any deals, Fujiwara said.

The source, who was familiar with the ongoing negotiations, declined to comment on the deal price and requested anonymity because the bid was not yet finalised.

The Yomiuri daily on Saturday reported the deal could cost 400 billion yen ($3.4 billion) and would be the biggest overseas beverage acquisition by a Japanese company, topping Kirin Holdings Co Ltd's (2503.T: Quote) $3.3 billion takeover of Australia's Lion Nathan in 2009.   Continued...

Asahi Breweries' new beer product Asahi Super Dry Premium (L), and reissued beers Asahi Super Dry (R) and Asahi Super Dry Dry Black are seen in front of its president Akiyoshi Koji during their unveiling in Tokyo December 12, 2013.  REUTERS/Yuya Shino