Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. plans to offer around 500 billion yen ($4.9 billion) to acquire British brewer SABMiller's beer operations in five Eastern European countries, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
The Japanese brewer eyes acquiring the operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia when they are opened up to bidding in the near future, as SABMiller aims to restructure its business globally to avert antitrust concerns given its planned merger with the world's largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Facing a shrinkage in the domestic beer market, Asahi is accelerating its efforts to expand overseas to raise profitability as it lags behind Japanese rivals who have gone down this route.
SABMiller, the world's second-largest beer brewer, and Belgian beer brewer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev are set to integrate to become a dominant brewer with 30 percent of the global beer market.
In February, Asahi said it will acquire SABMiller's European beer brands, including Peroni, for around 300 billion yen. The acquisition process is expected to formally advance from now on given shareholder approval for the integration between SABMiller and InBev last week.
Following media reports on Asahi's planned acquisition of SABMiller's beer business in Eastern Europe, Asahi issued a statement Wednesday saying, "As of this moment, we do not have a plan regarding making acquisition proposals and placing bids."