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Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The ACCC is seeking views on a divestment undertaking offered by Asahi in relation to its proposed acquisition of Carlton United Breweries (CUB).

Asahi’s proposed undertaking seeks to address the competition concerns identified by the ACCC in its statement of issues published on 12 December 2019, which raised preliminary competition concerns in relation to cider and beer.

The proposed divestment undertaking would require Asahi to divest the Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green cider business and the Stella and Becks beer business to purchaser(s) approved by the ACCC. 

“The release of the proposed divestment undertaking for public comment should not be interpreted as a signal that the ACCC will ultimately accept the undertaking and clear the transaction. We are following our usual practice of publicly consulting on a proposed divestment package,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We are seeking feedback from industry participants on whether the divestment package will be sufficient to address the competition concerns.”

In December 2019 the ACCC detailed how the acquisition would result in significant consolidation of cider brands. The ACCC considers that Asahi and CUB’s cider brands compete closely with each other.

In relation to beer, the ACCC noted that Asahi, while having a low market share, appears to be a vigorous competitor to the two major beer suppliers, and this competition will be removed if the acquisition proceeds.

The ACCC now seeks views from market participants on whether the proposed undertaking would be likely to alleviate its competition concerns. Parties wishing to make a submission should do so by 18 March 2020.

More information is available on the ACCC website at Asahi Group Holdings – Carlton & United Breweries (owned by Anheuser Busch InBev SA/NV).

Background

In Australia, Asahi manufactures and supplies a range of beer, cider and spirits products. Asahi’s beer brands include Asahi Super Dry, Peroni, Cricketers Arms, Grolsch, Mountain Goat, and Two Suns. In cider, Asahi licences Somersby cider (from Carlsberg).

CUB is currently owned by the Belgium-headquartered, multinational brewing company, Anheuser Busch InBev SA/NV.

CUB’s beer brands include Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Fat Yak, Crown Lager, Foster’s and Balter. CUB also licences and distributes a range of other beer brands including Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser. CUB’s cider range includes Strongbow, Mercury, Bonamy’s, Little Green, Spring Cider Co., Dirty Granny and Pure Blonde Cider. CUB also manufactures and distributes Bulmers under licence from Heineken.

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