Asahi’s NZ bid signifies move away from Japan, says analysts

By Helen Glaberson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic drinks, New zealand, Alcoholic beverage

Asahi’s NZ bid signifies move away from Japan, says analysts
Asahi’s alleged bid for a New Zealand beverage manufacturer is a move to expand from the “limited” Japanese market, according to analysts.

The Japanese brewing giant submitted its offer for Independent Liquor on 4 August, a source told Bloomberg.

A deal may value Independent Liquor, which is owned by Unitas Capital Pte and Sydney-based Pacific Equity Partners, at about US$1.2bn, including debt, reported the news source.

Limited growth prospects

Asahi needs to become less reliant on its domestic market, which has limited growth prospects, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor, Jeremy Cunnington told BeverageDaily.com.

Cunnington said Asahi had been busy expanding into the soft drinks category in Australia and New Zealand with new acquisitions and that it seems to be doing the same now in alcoholic drinks.

“The two countries are probably seen as a relatively easy leap in terms of geography and understanding in terms of market by Japanese companies,”​ he said.

In addition, Independent Liquors’ main focus is in Ready to Drink (RTD)’s. It is the leading company for this category in New Zealand and Asahi is the third biggest in this category in the Japanese market, the analyst added.

Asahi therefore understands the category well and will hope to grow it domestically and possibly expand into Australia, he said.

Impact

The analyst said the impact of the acquisition will primarily be in New Zealand as it will give a good route to market in the country that will allow Asahi to push brands in its existing alcoholic drinks portfolio.

Sydney-based drinks analyst John Band also agreed the bid signified a move to expand out from its Japanese base.

“Asahi bought the Malaysian number-two soft drinks producer in July, which suggests that the firm is trying as hard as it can to diversify out of selling alcohol in Japan,”​ he told this publication.

This is because Japan's been economically depressed for the last 10 years and will remain so for the next 10, he added.

Meanwhile, Independent Liquor's got a strong position in a developed but profitable market, and it owns the rights to Carlsberg's beer brands, he said.

“Asahi's already got Schweppes and P&N, and alcohol distribution laws in NZ are fairly lenient, so this beefs up its portfolio in terms of selling liquid into pubs and supermarkets,”​ said the analyst.

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