ASAHI announced last year its intentions to acquire Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) and has now offered to divest beer and cider brands in a bid to appease competition regulators.
CUB owns brands such as Stella Artois and Beck’s, and has rights to Strongbow. Asahi would have acquired these brands as part of the A$16bn (US$9.3bn) deal made in July 2019. A preliminary report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in December expressed concern that Asahi would own brands that accounted for two-thirds of Australian cider sales if the acquisition of CUB went ahead.
The ACCC said that the acquisition might lead to higher prices and that Asahi’s growth in Australia would mean that it would no longer act as a competitive restraint on other beer companies. A consultation has been opened by the ACCC following Asahi’s offer to divest the brands.
Rod Sims, Chair of the ACCC, said: “We are following our usual practice of publicly consulting on a proposed divestment package. We are seeking feedback from industry participants on whether the divestment package will be sufficient to address the competition concerns.”
Peter Margin, Chairman of Asahi Beverages, said: “We understand and respect that the ACCC must undertake a thorough process to ensure that the deal does not reduce competition and is in the interests of consumers. Asahi’s acquisition of CUB is a significant one and we have always expected that the review process would take some time.”
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