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Peroni and Grolsch brands sold to Asahi

BBC News BBC News 19/04/2016
Peroni beer © Getty Images Peroni beer

Brewing giant AB InBev has agreed to sell European lager brands Peroni and Grolsch to Japan's Asahi as part of its takeover of SABMiller.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed but Asahi had previously offered €2.25bn ($2.5bn; £1.8bn).

The group was put up for sale to allay competition concerns as a result of AB InBev's purchase of SABMiller.

The brands, which also include London's Meantime brewery, were originally owned by SABMiller.

SAB only bought Meantime last year, as part of an attempt to reap the benefits of the growing craft beer market in the UK.

In a statement, Asahi, which also owns the Super Dry brand, said: "This transaction will be completed concurrently with and subject to the completing of AB InBev's acquisition of SABMiller."

It added that it expected the deal to be completed in the second half of this year.

Asahi first signalled its interest back in February and, at the time, said that it had been looking to grow internationally, and that this deal would help the group "expand its growth platform in Europe and become a global player with a distinct position".

Kevin Baker, senior consultant at research company Canadean, said: "Although Peroni was an exceptionally successful brand, it (and Grolsch) would have struggled to find a position within the AB InBev portfolio which already includes Stella Artois, Beck's, and Corona.

"In many ways, this is a good fit for Asahi, who are used to dealing with premium brands in the European market," he added.

"The challenge will be to maintain and grow distribution without the backing of SABMiller's international network. However, much of Peroni's success has been in West European markets where SABMiller did not have operations on the ground, so the brand shouldn't suffer as a result."

By selling the brands, AB Inbev had wanted to "proactively address" any potential regulatory issues in its takeover of SABMiller, the largest takeover of a UK-based firm, as well as the fourth biggest in corporate history.

The Budweiser brewer has also sold SABMiller's 58% stake in US joint venture MillerCoors to its main partner in the business, Molson Coors, for $12bn.

The company created from the £70bn merger between AB Inbev and SAB will produce about 30% of the world's beer. The two firms are predicting cost savings of at least $1.4bn a year once the combination is completed.

AB InBev reported a 4% drop in profits in 2015 to $8.5bn (£5.9bn), hit by a fall in sales in the US and Brazil, as well as the slowdown in China.

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