TOKYO, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Japan's Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. will buy Anheuser-Busch InBev NV's Eastern Europe beer brands in a $7.8 billion deal, Asahi announced Tuesday.
The assets, breweries in Poland and the Czech Republic, were for sale as part of Anheuser-Busch InBev's plan to win regulatory approval for its October merger with SABMiller. Asahi, which dominates Japan's domestic market, already purchased Europe's Peroni and Grolsch brands from SABMiller for $2.7 billion, and will acquire the Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell and Polish brands Tyskie and Lech in the deal with Anhauser-Busch InBev.
Asahi previously said it would dedicate up to $4 billion for overseas acquisitions. Because of rival bidders it will spend nearly double that amount in the purchase.
An Asahi statement Tuesday referred to the company's desire to "establish, internationally, a distinct position as a global player that leverages it strengths originating in Japan." It noted Pilsner Urquell is the top-selling beer in the Czech Republic, the world's largest per capita market for beer, as well as in Romania, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
Japanese beer makers are seeking growth in international markets because the domestic market is shrinking, due to a declining and aging population. People familiar with the matter said Asahi has expressed interest in acquiring the Vietnamese brewer Sabeco, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The Vietnamese government has suggested the company is worth at least $1.8 billion.