The sale includes the Pilsner Urquell brand, which is the market leader in the Czech Republic and a number of surrounding countries.
As part of its takeover of SABMiller (completed in October this year), AB InBev had agreed to sell the central and eastern European businesses to help gain regulatory approval from the European Commission. Reports had speculated that Asahi could be a potential buyer for the businesses.
The €7.3bn deal is understood to be the largest purchase of a foreign beer operation by a Japanese brewer.
Asahi agreed to buy European SABMiller brands Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime (which are based in Italy, the Netherlands and London respectively) in April. These former SABMiller brands had been identified for divesture by AB InBev, again in order to gain regulatory approval for its acquisition of SABMiller.
Asahi says the purchase of the European businesses will allow it to grow sustainably in Europe.
Europe's beer landscape
The European Commission approved AB InBev's acquisition of SABMiller in May, conditional on AB InBev 'selling practically the entire SABMiller beer business in Europe’.
Asahi agreed to buy Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime in April; and will now buy Pilsner Urquell along with the eastern/central European businesses.
“The Target Business [the former SABMiller central and eastern European businesses] includes global brands such as “Pilsner Urquell”, the original Pilsner beer, which maintains the top market shares in the Czech Republic (the world’s highest per capita beer drinking country), the Slovak Republic, Poland, Hungary and Romania, resulting in significant profitability on the background of its strong business platform,” said Asahi.
“Through the acquisition of the Target Business, together with Super Dry, Peroni and Grolsch, Asahi aims to establish a unique position as a global player, mainly focusing on a leading premium brand portfolio to achieve sustainable growth.”
The transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2017.