The competition watchdog won’t oppose Japanese beverage giant Asahi’s $16 billion purchase of Victoria Bitter owner Carlton & United Breweries from AB Indev after Asahi agreed to sell some brands.
Asahi will sell the Stella Artois and Beck’s beer brands and Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green cider brands to buyer to be approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“The ACCC was concerned that without the divestments, the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in the cider market and remove a vigorous and effective competitor in the beer market,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
Asahi said it welcomed the ACCC’s announcement and would be putting together an independent, standalone business unit to manage the divestment of the beer and cider brands.
The deal still needs the approval of the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Tokyo-based Asahi sells beer brands Asahi Super Dry, Peroni, Cricketers Arms, Grolsch, Mountain Goat and Two Suns.
Carlton & United beer brands include Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Fat Yak, Crown Lager, Foster’s and Balter, as well as Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser under licence.
Its cider brands are Strongbow, Mercury, Bonamy’s, Little Green, Spring Cider Co, Dirty Granny and Pure Blonde Cider.
CUB employs nearly 1,600 people across its five breweries, which are still operational and continue to brew amid widespread restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“Unfortunately, you can’t turn major breweries off and then quickly turn them back on,” chief executive Peter Filipovic said on March 23, warning that they were shut down it would take months after reopening before they could supply Australia with beer.