The ACCC has approved Japanese beer giant Asahi’s acquisition of CUB – on the condition it sells off some of its brands

Carlton Draught. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy
  • The ACCC won’t oppose Asahi’s acquisition of Australia’s Carlton and United Breweries if the Japanese company sells some of its brands.
  • The green light was given on the proviso Asahi sells beer brands Stella Artois and Beck’s and three of its cider brands: Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green.
  • It comes after the ACCC pumped the brakes on the buyout following competition concerns in Australia’s beer and cider markers.
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The Australian Competition Consumer Commission (ACCC) will approve Asahi’s acquisition of Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) – under one condition.

In December 2019, the ACCC stalled the Japanese beverage group’s $16 billion acquisition over concerns it would reduce competition in Australia’s cider and beer market.

Asahi’s brands in Australia include Asahi Super Dry, Peroni and Mountain Goat as well as the license for Somersby cider. Aussie based CUB holds brands such as Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Fat Yak, Strongbow and Bonamy’s.

Now the competition regulator has decided to go ahead with the acquisition if Asahi sells two of its beer brands (Stella Artois and Beck’s) and three of its cider brands (Strongbow, Bonamy’s and Little Green).

Without selling these brands, ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement the Asahi-CUB company would have accounted for two-thirds of cider sales in Australia, as well as owning two of the biggest cider brands, Strongbow and Somersby.

“We determined that Asahi selling the beer and cider brands would be sufficient to address our competition concerns and provide an opportunity for another business to play an important role in a relatively concentrated industry,” Sims said.

While Asahi accounts for a relatively small share of beer sales in Australia, ACCC was worried the buyout would have meant a credible reduction in competition.

During the coronavirus pandemic, alcohol purchasing limits have been put in place at retailers including Aldi, BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Coles Liquor to address spikes in demand.

Research from Commonwealth Bank found spending on alcohol has risen 34% compared to a year ago. And spending on alcohol from bottle shops specifically has jumped 86% compared to the same week last year.