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Asahi on the hunt for overseas acquisitions

Asahi is looking for merger and acquisition opportunities in the US and overseas to boost sales of its flagship beer.

The Japanese drinks giant’s chief executive confirmed intentions to expand in a recent interview with Reuters where he outlined how Asahi is looking at M&A opportunities in emerging markets in Africa, Asia and South America, due to an absence of good US targets.

Speaking about the business’s goals, Asahi president Atsushi Katsuki said: “The US would be the largest market for us in terms of beer and it’s the only growing market among developed countries in terms of population.”

Total sales of Asahi Super Dry beer soared by 35% in 2023 as the brand’s global expansion plans began to illustrate how they are paying off.

In the interview, Katsuki highlighted how, despite the US market being big in terms of potential growth, the business was unlikely to target more takeovers there until next year at the earliest.

Katsuki added: “It [the US] is no longer an environment where acquisitions are made simply for economic value. Sometimes it is necessary for a company to take on a little too much in order to transform itself.”

Last month, Asahi revealed plans to buy Wisconsin-based Octopi Brewing, a move which would allow it to manufacture its Super Dry beer brand in the US rather than import it from Europe.

This is not the first time the company has hinted that it is still hungry for global domination. For instance, last summer, Asahi said that it wanted to grow its China business through focusing on e-commerce, which Asahi Beer Asia managing director Kinyi Choo called “a critical but also a very challenging channel

Asahi has reportedly prioritised paying down debt following its acquisition of the Australian arm of AB InBev in 2020 and SAB Miller’s central and European businesses in 2016.

Currently, the market in North America accounts for just 6% of Super Dry’s overseas sales, which stand at approximately 2 million hectolitres of beer. However, overall as a global business, total revenue for Asahi grew +6.8% year on year in 2023, and core operating profit grew +3.9%, ahead of the company’s growth forecast of 3.2%.

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