‘First Pilsner on Earth’ sold to Japanese
19. 12. 2016 | Source: BusinessInfo.cz
Most famous Czech brewer Pilsner Urquell has been acquired by Japan's Asahi in a EUR 7.3bn deal that also lands Slovak, Polish, Hungarian and Romanian beer brands.
The takeover, hailed as the largest ever beer deal made by a brewer from Japan, actually returns the cherished Pilsner Urquell Brewery [Plzeňský Prazdroj] to Japanese ownership after 17 years. The previous Japanese owner was investment group Nomura International. It became entangled in arbitration rows with the Czech government over the ownership of the proceeds from selling the asset. Created in 1842, Pilsner Urquell became the world’s first ever pilsner-type blond lager and has been imitated by every major beer producing nation in Europe.
South African Breweries (SAB), which acquired the brewery from Nomura, liked to boast that it had taken ownership of “the First Pilsner on Earth”. Asahi Group Holdings must now decide not only how it will market Pilsner Urquell, but also Poland's Tyskie and Lech, Slovakia’s Topvar, Hungary's Dreher and Romania's Ursus. The sweep of beer brands became available for sale from Belgium- -headquartered Anheuser-Busch InBev for EUR 7.3bn (CZK 270.4m) because the global giant needed to ease clearance from competition regulators for its USD 100 billion takeover of SABMiller. Amounting to the biggest deal in consumer goods history, it was finalised in October.
Asahi, which is struggling with beer sales back home, sees its acquisition as building on its EUR 2.55bn purchase of SABMiller's West European brands Peroni and Grolsch, sold for the same reason. European Commission competition approval will be needed for its latest transaction. “Via this acquisition Asahi intends to create a global player focused on premium brands,” the company, which employs 22,000 people worldwide and achieves an annual turnover of JPY 1.86 trillion (CZK 415bn), stated. Half of the turnover stems from alcoholic drinks, but not only beer. Asahi’s Central and Eastern European acquisitions give it nine per cent of the European beer market, excluding Russia, Reuters news agency reported.
Originally published in E15 weekly, economic and business newsmagazine. Author: Dušan Kütner