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Asahiʼs EUR 7.3 bln beer buyout includes Dreher

Drinks

Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings has agreed to purchase five East European beer brands of Anheuser-Busch InBev, among them the Hungarian brand Dreher - Hungarian news agency MTI reported Tuesday, based on a report in Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei.

Nikkei reported that the Asahi Group will pay almost JPY 900 billion (around EUR 7.3 billion) for brands including the Czech Pilsner Urquell, Polish Tyskie and Lech, and Hungarian Dreher.

The worldʼs biggest brewer, Belgian-Brazilian Anheuser-Busch InBev, bought the second biggest brewer SABMiller for over USD 100 billion in October, in the biggest brewery merger in history creating a new giant set to control one third of the international beer market.

Prior to completion of the takeover, AB InBev announced that it would sell SABMillerʼs brands in Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland in order to avoid violating the EUʼs rules on competition, which would have prompted the European Commission to prevent the deal. The Asahi Group was mentioned at the time as among those most likely to purchase the brands.

A report by Reuters in early November mentioned Hungarian oil and gas giant Mol as a member of a consortium making a bid for the beer brands. Mol submitted a bid together with Polish soft drinks manufacturer Maspex Wadowice Group and insurer PZU, but refused to comment at the time when questioned by MTI.

According to Reuters Tuesday, the acquisition is expected to be closed in the first half of next year, and would be Asahiʼs biggest deal, building on its EUR 2.55 bln purchase of SABMillerʼs West European brands Peroni and Grolsch.

Asahi, which needs to offset a weak home market according to Reuters, said the purchase would allow it to generate nearly a quarter of sales from overseas, up from 16% in October.

Reuters added that Asahiʼs latest deal will give it 9% of the European beer market excluding Russia, putting it third behind Heineken with 20% and Carlsberg with 12%.

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