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Business

Asahi buys AB InBev's eastern European business

Japanese brewer Asahi has said it's buying AB InBev's beer assets in five eastern European nations. It's the biggest ever overseas deal for the Japanese company, which has been eager to conquer new foreign markets.

Japan's Asahi Group said Tuesday it would pay $7.7 billion (7.2 billion euros) for AB InBev's beer assets in five eastern European countries.

It added that the purchase would include popular Czech beer Pilsner Urquell and other businesses in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Those assets were formerly owed by SABMiller before it became part of AB InBev, the maker of Corona, Beck's, Budweiser and Stella Artois.

Strategic move

"The target business is highly compatible with our existing business in western Europe and will strengthen our platform, allowing Asahi to grow sustainably across Europe," the Japanese brewer said in a statement.

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Japanese firms have been shopping abroad for years to counter a shrinking market at home. There's been a domestic slump in beer sales as younger people lose interest in the country's well-known business drinking culture.

Investors seemed to disapprove of Asahi's planned purchase, with the group's shares down by almost 5 percent on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. This may be because the takeover price announced Tuesday was twice as high as the sum mentioned in an earlier report back in October.

"But in the longer term, the deal could be a good strategy since Japanese brewers need to be in foreign markets to survive," SBI Securities analyst Nobuyuki Fujimoto told the AFP news agency.

hg/tr (AFP, Reuters)

 

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