Japanese brewer Asahi to acquire local soft drinks giant Calpis for $1.5 bn

Japan's largest brewer Asahi Group Holdings today said that it will acquire local soft drinks giant Calpis Co for about 120 billion yen ($1.5 billion), in order to strengthen its beverage business in a field other than beer.

In its largest deal to date, Tokyo-based Asahi, known for its popular "Super Dry" beer, will acquire all of Calpis' 73.94 million shares from Ajinomoto Co, a maker of seasonings and cooking oils.

Asahi will fund the deal with cash in hand and external debt, and may pay an additional 3 billion yen ($37 million) to Ajinomoto depending on a range of factors, including cash and deposits held by Calpis and its group companies.

Asahi plans to use the brand value of Calpis lactic acid drinks to expand its share of the soft drink market and strengthen its beverage business in a field other than beer.

Asahi is the fourth-largest in the domestic soft drink market with a 10 per cent market share, and the acquisition will take it to the third spot behind US beverage giant Coca-Cola and Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd.

Calpis is a subsidiary of Ajinomoto Co, which acquired a 75-per cent stake in the popular yogurt-flavoured drinks maker in 2007 for around 52 billion yen.