By Annette Shailer
Asahi Breweries has topped the list to buy Cadbury’s Australian drinks arm Schweppes with a takeover offer of $1.19 billion.
Cadbury released a statement announcing the conditional deal with Asahi Breweries, which would see the Japanese company control brands including Schweppes, Cool Ridge, Solo, Spring Valley and Cottee’s cordials.
“Cadbury today (December 24) announces that it has entered into a conditional agreement with Asahi Breweries for the sale of the Schweppes Beverages business in Australia for a total consideration in cash of approximately 550 million pounds,” the company said.
The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) has until March to make an offer and outbid Asahi, thanks to an exclusive pre-emptive deal signed 10 years ago.
TCCC’s pending decision could also be affected by Lion Nathan’s recent $8 billion takeover bid for Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA), in which TCCC has a 30 per cent sharehold.
The Asahi bid follows a spate of interest in the Australian market place from Japanese buyers, with Kirin, Sapporo, Suntory and Asahi collectively investing almost $6 billion into the nation’s food and beverage sector over the past 14 months.