HONG KONG — Asahi Group, the Japanese beer giant, said on Tuesday that it would pay $7.8 billion to buy a group of Central and Eastern European beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev, in the latest brand shuffle for the rapidly consolidating brewing business.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, based in Belgium, is selling the brands, including the Pilsner Urquell group, to allay the concerns of European competition regulators after it completed its merger with SABMiller in a deal valued at more than $100 billion.
Asahi, confronted with a graying and shrinking market at home in Japan, has been looking overseas in recent years for growth.
In February, Asahi agreed to pay $2.9 billion to buy the beer brands Peroni and Grolsch, as well as certain other European operations of SABMiller, from Anheuser-Busch InBev, a deal that was accepted in April and was also driven by regulatory concerns related to the merger.
The latest deal, which is expected to close in the first half of next year, would give Asahi control of operations that were previously owned by SABMiller in five countries, including Pilsner Urquell, Kozel, Tyskie and other brands. The Japanese brewer noted that the targeted brands were the market leaders in the Czech Republic — which Asahi said was the world’s biggest beer-drinking country on a per-capita basis — Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.
“Asahi envisages strengthening its cash-generating power by positioning its domestic profit base as the cornerstone of its earnings, with the overseas business as its growth engine,” it said on Tuesday in a statement.
The targeted beer brands are “highly compatible with our existing business in Western Europe and will strengthen our business platform, allowing Asahi to grow sustainably across Europe,” it added.