Asahi Closing in on $3B StarBev Deal

Japanese brewer Asahi is working to finalize the purchase of eastern European brewer StarBev from private equity owner CVC Capital Partners in a deal likely to be worth around $3 billion, Reuters wrote Friday. The two were hammering out the final details of a deal which could be announced as early as next week after Asahi was left as the only bidder in the race, but the people said that the deadline was flexible and matters could still change.

(Reuters) – Japanese brewer Asahi is working to finalise the purchase of eastern European brewer StarBev from private equity owner CVC Capital Partners in a deal likely to be worth around $3 billion, said people familiar with the matter.

 

The two were hammering out the final details of a deal which could be announced as early as next week after Asahi was left as the only bidder in the race, but the people said that the deadline was flexible and matters could still change.

 

“Asahi and CVC are putting the finishing touches to a deal,” said one source with knowledge of the deal on Friday.

 

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Asahi was seen as a frontrunner in the auction to buy StarBev.

 

The private equity group, which bought StarBev in December 2009, put the business up for sale after approaches from a number of brewers thought to include Asahi, Carlsberg , SABMiller and Heineken.

 

CVC had bought the business from the world’s biggest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev, calling it StarBev after its Czech beer Staropramen, and although AB InBev has the “right of first offer”, at least two sources with knowledge of the deal said that AB InBev is not going to buy back the assets.

 

The business has operations in nine eastern European nations including the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary and although its has been hit by recent weakness in eastern European economies, it is still seen as a long-term growth story in a rapidly consolidating brewing world.

 

All parties involved either declined to comment or could not be immediately be reached for comment. (By Emi Emoto and David Jones)