Asahi buys into Australian soft drinks market again

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Related tags: Soft drinks

Asahi Breweries has agreed to acquire P&N Beverages, the third largest soft drinks company in Australia in its latest move towards the goal of joining the ranks of the biggest global food companies.

In April last year, Asahi bought Schweppes Australia from Cadbury and the company now wants to deepen its presence in the country.

In a deal worth AUS$364m (€255m), the Japanese firm has bought P&N which has a wide portfolio of branded and private label soft drinks in Australia and a turnover of AUS$384.7m.

Australian market

Through the latest acquisition, Asahi aims to enhance its position in the Australian beverage market and take advantage of operational synergies with the Schweppes business. P&N and Schweppes will now set up an integration executive committee to see how these efficiency gains can best be achieved.

The acquisition also fits into a broader plan to join the ranks of the top global food companies in terms of size. In December last year, the firm said it planned to increase total sales from around ¥1.5 trillion (€11.3bn) in 2009 to ¥2-2.5 trillion in 2015.

Part of that plan is to shift the focus of the business from the Japanese beer market, which has been struggling in recent years as tastes diversify, the population ages, and the economy falters.

Foreign focus

Asahi instead plans to target faster growing foreign markets. It has set the goal of increasing the overseas share of total sales to between 20 and 30 per cent by 2015.

Asahi expects the acquisition to be completed by the end of November this year but warned that there cold be delays meeting conditions including gaining the approval of the regulatory authorities.

More acquisitions could follow the purchase of P&N. Back in December, Reuters reported that Asahi president Hitoshi Ogita told a press conference that the company could spend as much as ¥300 to ¥400bn (€2.2 to €3bn) on acquisitions, and saw good opportunities in Asia including Taiwan, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The news agency reported Ogita saying: “To a certain degree we must attain scale or we will sink in a huge global swirl.”

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