Asahi Group close to buying AB InBev's eastern European beer brands for $7.8 bn

Japanese brewer Asahi Group Holdings Ltd has neared a deal to buy five eastern European beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev for about 900 billion ($7.8 billion), the Nikkei business daily reported.

AB InBev agreed to sell operations in Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland to help secure regulatory approval for its $104 billion proposed acquisition of its London-based rival SABMiller. (See: AB InBev to sell Central, Eastern European brewing assets to win EU antitrust approval) Asahi Group has agreed to buy SABMiller's Czech Republic brand Pilsner Urquell, Poland's Tyskie and Lech and Hungary's Dreher, the report said.

The purchase comes nine months after Asahi Group agreed to buy SABMiller's Western European brands Peroni and Grolsch for $2.9 billion.

SABMiller is the third-largest brewer in Eastern Europe, with a 14-per cent market share.

Bloomberg had in September reported that China Resources Beer Holdings Co., Asahi Group Swiss investment group Jacobs Holding AG, Poland's Kulczyk Investments SA and CVC Capital Partners, are in the race to buy the eastern European operations of SABMiller

Asahi's sales outside of Japan account for around a fifth its total revenue, and a successful deal to buy SABMiller Eastern European assets would be the biggest ever made by the Tokyo-based company.