By Andy Young
The President of Asahi in Japan has said that the company is still on the lookout for potential targets and for good deals in the global beer brands market.
Having recently purchased a number of European brands, including Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell, sold by AB InBev as it secured its takeover of SABMiller, Akiyoshi Koji told Reuters that the company is open to more acquisitions.
“We are always studying potential targets. We need to keep studying, so that we can stay sharp for good deals,” Koji said.
Although the AB InBev deals have seen Asahi’s net debt rise to over five times its EBITDA, its debt was three times EBITDA before the deals, Koji said this would not stop more purchases.
"I'm not saying we won't make any acquisitions until our net debt/EBITDA goes back to three, though I'm not saying we will make any acquisitions either," Koji said.
Having already bought Australian craft brewer Mountain Goat, there is a lot of industry speculation that the large beer companies are eyeing off more of Australia’s craft brewers. Other international deals are possible as well and Asahi was among beer companies that expressed interest in buying stakes of Vietnam's state-controlled Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp.
Asahi has recently sold a 10 per cent stake in China’s Tingyi Asahi Beverages Company and said it is reviewing its 20 per cent stake in the Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd.
"We have to think what the best way is for our alliance with Tingyi and Tsingtao. Under the current structure, they have become purely financial investments for us," Koji said.
Meanwhile Heineken has confirmed that it is holding talks with Kirin about buying its troubled Brazilian beer operation.
In a statement Heineken said that it is “currently in discussions with Kirin Holdings Company, Limited regarding a potential transaction in respect of Brasil Kirin Holding SA”. The company added: “These discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that an agreement will be reached.”
Kirin entered the Brazilian market in 2011 when it bought the country’s Schincariol brand, but since then has lost market share as beer sales fall in the recession-hit country.