The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of sole control over the business currently owned by AB InBev in Central and Eastern Europe by the Asahi Group of Japan. The AB InBev CEE Business comprises certain beer brands and assets formerly owned by SABMiller and currently belonging to AB InBev in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. These brands and assets had to be divested as a condition for the approval of the AB InBev/SABMiller transaction.
The Asahi Group is a beverages and food company with its core business on beer. The Commission concluded that the acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of the very limited increment brought by the transaction and the presence of several beer competitors in the markets in question. The transaction was examined under the normal merger review procedure.
The €7.3 billion acquisition by Asahi encompasses businesses in five countries in Central and Eastern Europe relating to the Pilsner Urquell, Kozel, Tyskie and other brands, together with intellectual property rights associated with Pilsner Urquell, Kozel and Tyskie brands (excluding intellectual property rights associated with Pilsner Urquell, Tyskie and Lech in the US and Puerto Rico; Miller brands in the five countries in Central and Eastern Europe; and Redd’s brand except in the five countries in Central and Eastern Europe).
Asahi had already purchased a strong business platform in Western Europe in October 2016, comprising Italian, Dutch, UK and other related assets from SABMiller, including global premium brands such as Peroni and Grolsch, for €2.55 billion.