Asahi from Japan has bought Australian brewery group Carlton & United Breweries for ten billion euros. Seller AB InBev, the largest brewery group in the world, wants to lower its debt rate with this deal, after the disappointment of a failed IPO.
Needed after failed IPO
The sale was needed to bring AB InBev some fresh capital, after last week it pulled the plug on the flotation of its Asian branch. The Belgian beer giant had hoped to earn eight billion euros from the IPO, but it soon turned out the initial share price was set to high and (mainly American) buyers were put off. However, by selling Carlton the producer of Stella Artois has managed to raise even more funds as the Australian group changes hands for ten billion euro.
The transaction includes a licence for Asahi to sell AB InBev's international brands (like Stella Artois, Hoegaarden en Corona) in Australia. After the 2016 takeover of SABMiller by AB InBev, the Japanese brewery group had secured the rights to the Eastern European brands of SABMiller, including Hungarian Dreher, Polish Tyskie and Lech, and the Czech powerhouse Pilsner Urquell. And even before the merger, Asahi had bought Dutch brand Grolsch and Italian Peroni from SABMiller.
AB InBev needed to do something to alleviate its debt burden, which was caused in no small part by the SABMiller acquisition. By the end of next year, the Belgian group wants to lower its debt ratio to under four times its gross profit. The Wall Street Journal has learnt that CEO Carlos Brito is also toying with the idea to sell his company's Korean and Central-American activities.