Cider (Photo: Tero Vesalainen on Pixabay)
09 January 2020

Australian regulator concerned about sale of CUB to Asahi

Australia | The country’s competition watchdog ACCC has raised concerns over the USD 11 billion deal by AB-InBev to sell its local unit CUB to Japan’s Asahi. AB-InBev acquired Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) from SABMiller in 2016.

In a preliminary statement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said on 12 December 2019 that the deal would reduce competition in the cider market and may also do so in the beer market.

“The proposed acquisition would combine the two largest suppliers of cider in a highly concentrated market,” it said, stating that the combined businesses would control about two thirds of cider sales. Asahi would have the Somersby, Strongbow, Mercury and Bulmers brands under its belt, which account for the bulk of cider sales in Australia. The commission said the deal could lead to higher cider prices.

Cider sales down

Funny that. On 16 December 2019 the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported that the alcoholic cider market has actually been in decline in the past year after strong growth from 2012 to 2018. Cider makes up about 3 percent of the total alcohol market.

Because of cider’s downward trend and potential competition from beverages like hard seltzers, Asahi could struggle to get a high price for the cider brands it may have to sell to appease the regulators in the CUB buyout, the AFR warns.

Observers believe that because of the ACCC’s concerns, it is unlikely that the deal will get passed without conditions.

Australian beer market: competitive landscape (Source: AB-InBev)


According to an AB-InBev filing, CUB had a beer market share of nearly 49 percent in 2018, followed by Lion (owned by Kirin) at 36.4 percent and Asahi at 1.2 percent.

The ACCC has invited submissions from interested parties by 22 January 2020 and plans to issue a final decision on 19 March 2020.

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