The moves in the usually dormant Australian brewing sector just keep coming. A month or so after Lion Nathan made a play for Coca Cola Amatil (discussed in this post), we see another takeover, this time from Japanese brewer Asahi.
Asahi look have puchased the Australian Schweppes business from Cadbury. This gives them access to various soft drink, bottled water and cordial brands, including the bottling and distribution rights to Pepsi and Gatorade stables down under.
On all accounts, Asahi outbid fellow Japanese beer giants Suntory and Kirin, as well as Coca Cola Amatil (CCA). It is still possible the US Coca Cola Company (CCC) could scupper the deal with a counter offer (due to a “last rights” arrangement dating back to the late 1990s). It is unclear whether CCC will exercise this right, nor is it clear how Australian competition regulators would view a greater Coca Cola presence in the market. Also CCC would need to offload the Pepsi business thus reducing the gains from any purchase.
While soft drinks (and other non-alcoholic beverages) are undergoing such a shakeup, the big questions remains whether Asahi are planning to also expand into brewing down here. Currently, their beers are distributed through Fosters in Australia. It is conceivable that Asahi could expand into their own brewing and distribution using the Schweppes facilities and value chain. Asahi have been innovators before. Their launch of the Super Dry product is much studied, as it launched from a minor to a major player in the Japanese market.
Or perhaps they are just going to bombard our market with a huge range of soft drink products from Japan. Canned coffee anyone?