BELGIAN brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has agreed to sell its Australian subsidiary, Carlton and United Breweries (CUB), to Asahi Group Holdings for A$16bn (US$10.8bn).
AB InBev will use all the proceeds from the sale to pay down debt. According to Business Insider, AB InBev has incurred a US$100bn debt pile from its 2016 purchase of brewing company SAB Miller. CUB was acquired through the purchase, the report adds.
Selling CUB will allow AB InBev to further reduce its debt and strengthen its growth opportunities. The company also expects that the sale will allow it to accelerate its expansion into other growing markets, both in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and globally.
As part of the agreement, AB InBev will grant Asahi the rights to commercialise the portfolio of AB InBev’s global and international brands in Australia. CUB’s product range includes iconic Australian brands such as Victoria Bitter, Carlton, and Great Northern.
Japanese food and drink company Asahi already participates in the Australian beer and cider categories, as well as non-alcoholic drinks. Asahi expects to acquire CUB’s broad distribution network and to benefit from advantages of scale in areas such as procurement, by collaborating with Asahi’s existing Australian business. Asahi will also acquire CUB’s global and local management resources.
The purchase of CUB will increase the value of Asahi’s Australian business, making it the company’s third core pillar alongside its Japanese and European businesses, strengthening Asahi’s global business platform.
Asahi said: “We aim to deliver sustained growth and enhanced corporate value in the medium-to-long term by integrating the strengths of the brands and human resources that we have developed in each of our three core pillars.”
Carlos Brito, CEO of AB InBev, said: “We continue to see great potential for our business in APAC and the region remains a growth engine within our company. With our unparalleled portfolio of brands, strong commercial plans and talented people, we are uniquely positioned to capture opportunities for growth across the APAC region.”
The transaction is expected to close in Q1 of 2020.
Previously, AB InBev attempted to raise as much as US$10bn to put towards its debt, reports Business Insider. According to the report, the initial public offering (IPO) would have been the largest in the world if it had gone through, surpassing the US$8.1bn raised by Uber in May.
AB InBev was to list its minority stake in Budweiser Brewing Company APAC on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange but in July the company announced it was backing out of the IPO due to “several factors”, including “prevailing market conditions”. According to Business Insider, some investors thought the US$64bn valuation was too high. The sale of CUB is expected to help AB InBev achieve a more attractive price.
AB InBev said that it “continues to believe in the strategic rationale of a potential offering of a minority stake of Budweiser Brewing Company APAC Limited (Budweiser APAC), excluding Australia, provided that it can be completed at the right valuation.”
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