Australia’s competition watchdog ACCC has raised concerns over Asahi’s planned acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) and proposed the divestment of cider brands Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green and its beers, Stella Artois and Becks to approve the deal.
In July 2019, AB InBev announced to sell its Australian subsidiary CUB to Asahi Group Holdings at a purchasing price of AUD 16.0 billion (USD 11.3 bn). The transaction was subject to regulatory approval and was expected to close by the first quarter of 2020, the company said at that time (inside.beer, 19.7.2019).
After a preliminary review ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in December that “the proposed acquisition would combine the two largest suppliers of cider in a highly concentrated market.“ Sims also noted that “while Asahi is currently a relatively small brewer in Australia, accounting for approximately 3.5 per cent of beer sales here, our preliminary view is that Asahi may act as a competitive constraint on the two largest beer brewers, CUB and Lion, and has the potential to be an even bigger threat in future” (inside.beer, 12.12.2019).
“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,” said Asahi Beverages NZ chairman, Peter Margin. “We are working towards completing the deal as soon as possible once we have received regulatory approvals from both the ACCC and the Foreign Investment Review Board.”