Australia’s competition watchdog ACCC has approved AB InBev’s proposed sale of its Australian subsidiary Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) to Asahi Group Holdings for AUD 16 billion ($11 billion), despite raising concerns at the end of last year.
The deal, which was initially announced on 19 July 2019, will give Asahi the rights to brands such as Carlton Draught, Crown Lager, Budweiser, Strongbow and Bulmers.
In December last year, ACCC raised the concern that a combined Asahi-CUB would reduce competition in the market for cider and could also affect the beer market.
By keeping Asahi in the market as a competitor to CUB and Lion, ACCC said it may help ‘to keep a lid on beer prices’.
However, it has been announced today that ACCC has granted its clearance of the acquisition, marking a key step towards completing the transaction.
Following the approval, Asahi Beverages has agreed to divest certain brands to address ACCC’s concerns in relation to competition in the cider and premium international beer categories.
Asahi plans to divest three cider brands – Strongbow, Little Green and Bonamy’s – and both Stella Artois and Beck’s from its beer portfolio.
Asahi said it is putting in place the steps to establish a standalone, independent business unit to help manage the divestment of these brands.
AB InBev expects the transaction to close as soon as possible in the second quarter of 2020 following the approval of the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019