Soft drinks step-back continues for Asahi Group Holdings, with Indonesia JV divestments

Asahi Group Holdings is keener on beer than soft drinks

Asahi Group Holdings is set to continue its withdrawal from the soft drinks category through its intention to offload stakes in two joint-ventures in Indonesia.

The Japanese multi-category group, best-known for its namesake beer brand, announced at the beginning of October that it has signed a letter of intent to sell off its holdings in Asahi Indofood Beverage Makmur (AIBM) and Indofood Asahi Sukses Beverage (IASB). Negotiations have begun with Asahi's JV partner, Indofood CBP Sukses Makmur about securing a deal.

The two JVs were initially set up in mid-2012 and were responsible for marketing and distributing non-alcoholic drinks across Indonesia. The pair have a combined capital value of JPY21bn (US$185.9m), according to the Japanese conglomerate.

"Asahi has established a long-term vision (as) a comprehensive beverage and food business group with the alcoholic beverage at its core," the company said. "The group will be a domestic industry leader focused on high-value additions, while establishing a unique position as a global player that leverages strengths originating in Japan.

"At the same time, the company has also sought to continuously enhance corporate value through business portfolio restructuring. To this end, Asahi has examined its investment in the Indonesia beverage business and decided to start the negotiation process to sell its entire equity stake."

The news follows Asahi's agreement in June to sell its holding in Chinese soft drinks unit Tingyi-Asahi Beverages. The group has been active in the global beer arena, spending US$2.9bn on the Peroni Nastro Azzuro, Grolsch and Meantime brands last April, adding SABMiller's former Central & European beer assets to its portfolio for $7.7bn earlier this year. Last month, the head of the company's brewing division said the unit is capable of "billions of dollars" of M&A spend on bolt-on beer acquisitions in Europe.