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Asahi outbids PE firms to buy Peroni and Grolsch

PAI Partners, BC Partners, Cinven, Permira, KKR and EQT were all thought to be among the PE firms bidding for the world-famous beer brands.

Japan’s Asahi Group is set to beat a bevy of private equity firms in the fight to acquire Peroni and Grolsch Beers From SABMiller. An acquisition was expected to go ahead in March, but Asahi’s early offer of 400 billion yen ($3.5 billion; €3.1 billion) has won out and is expected to be formally approved this month, Nikkei reported.

The sale of the brands attracted interest from from European private equity firms PAI Partners, BC Partners, Cinven and Permira, Agri Investor reported last year. US private equity firm KKR and European firm EQT were also reported to be among those bidding.

The decision to sell two of SABMiller’s premium brands comes on the back of what is set to be one of the biggest takeovers in corporate history. 3G Capital-backed Anheuser-Busch InBev is waiting for approval from European regulators for its $100 billion-plus acquisition of rival  SABMiller. The two companies are the biggest brewers in the industry and combined, would produce about a third of the world’s beer.

“Asahi’s bid for Peroni and Grolsch would offer the company economies of scale in procurements and production, along with a larger footprint outside of the domestic Japanese market, where beer volumes have been declining,” said senior fund manager at Royal London Asset Management, Andrea Williams.

“The deal could be good news for SAB Miller, who is looking to sell the two brands to address regulatory concerns over its planned merger. The move reflects a wider period of consolidation in the beer market, with five brewers owning 50 percent of the market, and the AB Inbev/SAB Miller merger giving them 30 percent of that market.”

Asahi represents about 38 percent of Japan’s beer market.

EQT and PAI Partners did not response to requests for comment.