Asahi ambitious for more acquisitions despite European buying spree

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Asahi is on the lookout for further acquisitions.
Asahi is on the lookout for further acquisitions.
Japan’s biggest beer firm Asahi is weighing up further European acquisitions following last year’s two bumper deals with AB InBev.

The first of which, in April, saw the firm acquire former SAB Miller Western Europe brands Peroni and Grolsch

This was swiftly followed in December by Asahi getting its hands on the former SABMiller businesses in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania too.

The sale included the Pilsner Urquell brand, which is the market leader in the Czech Republic and a number of surrounding countries.

Those deals came about after 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’.

And despite having a raft of new brands in his stable, Asahi company president Akiyoshi Koji said he was still on the lookout for more deals.

"We are always studying potential targets. We need to keep studying, so that we can stay sharp for good deals,"​ he was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“The domestic market is turning out stable cash flow but we want overseas markets to be our growth engine.”

He said Asahi was financing the deals with a combination of bank loans and bond sales, causing net debt to spike to five times its earnings.

Nevertheless, he suggested he wouldn’t hold off his acquisition quest until it “goes back to three.”

Koji also revealed the company was assessing its minority 20% stake in China’s Tsingtao Brewery Co.

“Ownership without control doesn’t make much sense,"​ he said, speaking during the week it was announced Japan’s domestic beer sales had fallen for the 12th​ consecutive year.”

Meanwhile Asahi Premium Beverages this week had to recall bottles of The Cider Lab in Australia, over “the presence of undeclared sulphites”.

The recall affects 330ml bottles of The Cider Lab Pink Lady Apple cider, The Cider Lab Royal Gala cider and The Cider Lab Packham Pear cider; the 4x6 packs of 330ml bottles within a 24-pack carton. The recall is for all best before dates.

The Cider Lab products which have ‘Contains Sulphites’ stickers on the bottle are not subject to recall.


Airline ANA takes off on ethical food supply chain journey

Japanese airline ANA has become the first company in the country to take part in the Blue Number initiative, which aims to build ethical food supply chains.

The Blue Number acts as a unique identifier for use by anyone involved in the food chain from farmers, producers, distributors and vendors to consumers.

Producers can use their blue number to allow the end consumer access to information about their products including contents, nature of the product and region of origin. This ensures that the supply chain linking producers and consumers becomes visible, creating traceability and transparency.

ANA HD aspires to use this platform to further strengthen the management of its supply chain for all food related services including in-flight meals.

The Blue Number Foundation, headquartered in New York is a nonprofit organisation that engages in projects around the world and manages registration information from an independent, neutral standpoint.


Japan university targets Halal joint venture

Japan’s Kumamoto University and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) are considering establishing a joint Halal food hub for co-branded products.

Kumamato university's vice president Taizo Matsumoto said UTM was well- known for its halal research facilities.

"Japan is not a Muslim country, but the halal market is a multi-billion dollar industry,"​ he said.

Matsumoto was in Malaysia where he also held discussions with the Iskandar Malaysia Chamber and Industry, and the Johor Halal Park.

The Halal Japan Business Association says there are more than 200 Japanese manufacturers selling halal products, but it believes there is considerable scope for growth, not lease in the Middle East where demand for premium, Halal-certified Wagyu beef is growing.

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