Financial analysts in Japan are pouring cold water on rumours that Asahi may look to merge with either Sapporo Holdings or Foster's Group to compete with a combined Kirin and Suntory.

A CSLA Japan analyst told just-drinks today (28 July), following a conversation with Asahi representatives, that the group "would not be in a rush to chase any type of merger or acquisition of Sapporo".

He said: "Asahi sees a potential merger between Kirin and Suntory as a positive for the entire market, with less competition  in both the beer and soft drink segments seen as particularly positive."

He added: "We see the potential Kirin/Suntory merger as being positive for the entire industry, including Asahi, even in its current form."

"Lion Nathan and Foster's have prospered over the past ten years in a similar duopoly situation, and we see similar prospects in Japan."