Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board has approved Asahi’s acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries.
It’s the final piece of the puzzle during a long sale process for Asahi Beverages, which first announced its intention to acquire the Australian brewing giant in July 2019.
In February, Asahi agreed to divest its cider business and two beer brands in its quest to gain ACCC approval for its acquisition of CUB.
The cider brands – Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green – equate to about 20% of the Australian cider market, with Strongbow being about 18%. The beer brands – Stella Artois and Beck’s – are established premium international beer brands.
“This Australian Foreign Investment Review Board approval represents the conclusion of the regulatory review process and all of the regulatory conditions to closing the transaction have now been satisfied,” Asahi said.
Chairman Asahi Beverages Peter Margin added: “Both parties will move to complete this acquisition on June 1, with CUB joining the Asahi Beverages family on that day.”
CUB will become a business division of the Asahi Beverages Regional Hub within Oceania, along with Asahi Lifestyle Beverages, Asahi Premium Beverages and Asahi Beverages New Zealand.
Acquisition no impediment to innovation
CUB launched its first white spirit premix since the iconic Sub Zero this week. Actual Vodka Seltzer is the brewer’s first-ever alcoholic seltzer, as it seeks to enter the booming category.
Actual Vodka Seltzer is one of the lowest-calorie ready-to-drink vodka on the Australian market and is made with 100% natural ingredients to a vegan recipe. There are two varieties, pure and lime. Pure has no sugar and 65 calories, while lime is low in sugar and contains 69 calories.
The alcoholic – or “hard” – seltzer category saw on-premise sales growing five-fold in 2019 in the United States to $US1.2 billion.
Actual Senior Marketing Manager Marc Lord said: “The hard seltzer market grew from nothing to become a multi-billion-dollar business in just five years in the United States. This is the next big thing here in Australia, and that’s why Carlton & United Breweries created Actual.”