Asahi to acquire Independent Liquor

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Alcoholic beverage

Asahi to acquire Independent Liquor
Japan’s Asahi Group Holdings today announced an agreement to acquire 100% of Independent Liquor from Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital in a 97.6bn Yen ($1.28bn) deal.

Independent Liquor is one of New Zealand’s biggest ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages company and holds a diverse range of well-established, branded beverages such as Carlsberg, Vladivir vodka and Woodstock bourbon.

Asahi said its long-term vision is to increase its sales to 2.5 trillion Yen ($32.6bn) and to increase its overseas shares to 30% by 2015. Asahi said that the acquisition will allow the company to gain a stronghold in Australia and New Zealand.

President of Asahi Group Holdings, Naoki Izumiya said: “The transaction demonstrates our commitment, in line with our strategy, of increasing our presence overseas and enhances Asahi Group’s position in the global alcoholic beverages market. Integrating Independent Liquor into our existing operations in the region will bring real benefits to both Asahi Group and Independent Liquor."
The deal is subject to regulatory approvals from Australia and New Zealand and is set to be completed by the end of September 2011.

Asahi has a strengthening reach throughout Australia and New Zealand with existing soft drink operations through Schweppes Australia, acquired in 2009 and it is in the process of acquiring Australia-based P&N Beverages water and juice business and New Zealand soft drink maker Charlie’s Group Limited.

Independent Liquor also has a strong international reach, particularly throughout Asia, and the deal is welcomed by the company.

The group chief executive of Independent Liquor, Peter Murphy said: “Over the past three years the management team and I have worked hard to build Independent Liquor into a profitable business with strong growth opportunities. This is a great outcome for Independent Liquor and positions us well to continue to develop the business in the future.”

Shrinking drinks market

According to a March Euromonitor International report on alcoholic drinks in Japan, the drinks market declined in 2010 mainly due to poor economy but also due to lifestyle trends and is set to do so for the rest of 2011. It said that the drinks industry is a shrinking market as younger consumers in Japan are not drinking as much and there is a desire for a healthier lifestyle.

The report said that the drivers for growing retail channels are convenience and cheapness and said: “Knowing the younger consumer and cultivating new drinkers is the key. The largest challenge that alcoholic drinks players in Japan face is how to cultivate new drinkers, especially the younger age group to support the future market.”

The managing director of Pacific Equity Partners, Tony Duthie, said the deal “leaves the company well positioned to take advantage of its market leading position and growth potential.”

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