Heineken acquisition of Asahi brands approved by ACCC & FIRB

December 22, 2020
By Ioni Doherty

Asahi Beverages’ divestment of alcohol brands owned or licensed by Carlton & United Breweries has received final regulatory approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Subsequently, Heineken N.V. (Heineken) will acquire cider brand Strongbow from Asahi Group Holdings Limited (Asahi) in Australia, along with two other cider brands, Little Green and Bonamy’s. The company will also gain the perpetual licenses on beer brands Stella Artois and Beck’s in Australia.

The deal for the acquisition of these brands by Heineken, to be distributed in Australia by Heineken subsidiary Drinkworks, is due to complete by 5 January, 2021.

The transaction fulfills Asahi Beverages’ divestment obligations as part of the ACCC’s approval of our acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries.

Under the terms of the divestment, and to ensure no disruption for customers over summer, Asahi and Drinkworks have agreed that Carlton & United Breweries will continue to make the divested brands available for purchase and delivery through Carlton & United Breweries (on behalf of Drinkworks) until 30 April, 2021.

Strongbow in Australia reunites with global Strongbow portfolio after 17 years. Strongbow was first produced by H.P Bulmer, which was founded in 1887 by Percy Bulmer, the 20-year old son of a local clergyman. Ownership of the brand went to Scottish & Newcastle when they acquired H.P Bulmer in 2003. In Australia and New Zealand, Scottish & Newcastle’s interests were sold to Foster’s, CUB’s predecessor, which inherited the Strongbow brand in these two countries. In 2008, as part of a consortium, Heineken acquired Scottish & Newcastle along with the Strongbow brand.

Today, Strongbow is Heineken’s leading cider brand globally, sold in more than 40 countries. The acquisition of the Strongbow brand in Australia marks a milestone as it reunites with the global Strongbow portfolio after 17 years.

Jacco van der Linden, President of Heineken APAC said, “We are thrilled to bring the Strongbow brand in Australia home to Heineken and scale up our beer and cider portfolio in one of the world’s leading beer and cider markets. This acquisition shows that Heineken remains active in pursuing growth where we see opportunities that align with our long-term strategy.”

The five brands being acquired will be distributed in Australia by Drinkworks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Heineken. This will strengthen Drinkworks’ existing premium beer and cider portfolio in Australia which includes Tiger, Sol, Monteith’s beer and cider and Orchard Thieves cider.

Financial terms have not been disclosed.

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