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FREE TO READ - just-drinks' Mergers & Acquisitions database - October 2019

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Here, just-drinks consolidates the M&A activity in the global drinks industry during October, a month that saw Carlsberg take control in Cambodia, Pernod Ricard consolidate in France and The Coca-Cola Co reportedly mull a sale in India.

Beer

Anheuser-Busch InBev has paid down more than US$6m in debt days after a money-raising IPO in Hong Kong. The global brewer, which is trying to reduce debt following its US$107bn purchase of SABMiller in 2016, said yesterday it has paid back three debt notes.

Asahi Group wants to set up more global hubs as it prepares to acquire Anheuser-Busch InBev's Australasian operations, the Japanese brewer's CEO has said in an interview. Speaking to Bloomberg, Asahi CEO Akiyoshi Koji said the company will look to set up one or two more geographic hubs once it has bedded in new acquisitions.

Carlsberg has lined up the acquisition of the remaining stake in its joint-venture in Cambodia. Coinciding with the release of third-quarter and year-to-date results, the group said it has agreed to buy out Goh Nan Yang, the JV's former MD, giving it 100% control of Cambrew.

This month, beer category commentator Stephen Beaumont surveys the brewing scene in North America, and considers which beer style is poised to be brewers' Great White Hope. Again.

Soft Drinks

Traverse City Whiskey Co has branched out into the mixers arena, acquiring New York-based Cocktail Crate. The purchase sees the Michigan distiller take control of the cocktail mixer producer for an undisclosed sum.

The Coca-Cola Co has declined to comment on reports linking the group to the sale of some of its factories in India to franchise partners. The Economic Times reported that the Coca-Cola-owned bottler Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) is poised to complete the sale of part of its bottling operations in India to three bottlers - Moon Beverages, Ladhani Group and the Kandhari Group.

Has the sugar tax altered the playing field so much that full-sugar is now considered a niche selling point for soft drinks? Lucy Britner takes a closer look.

Spirits

Pernod Ricard will look to restart growth in its struggling home market through a merger of its two business units in the country, and by cutting almost 200 jobs. The group will combine its French units - referred to locally as Pernod and Ricard - which currently operate separately.

Campari Group has agreed to pay US$35.7m to take a controlling interest in the Mexican producers of a mezcal and a spicy liqueur. The Italian company will acquire 51% stakes in both Licorera Ancho Reyes and Casa Montelobos.

Scotch whisky blender Douglas Laing & Co is moving into distilling for the first time with the purchase of Strathearn Distillery. The 70-year-old company, which is also building its own distillery in Glasgow, has acquired the Perthshire-based Strathearn for an undisclosed amount.

Despite drawing criticism from certain quarters, the single malt Scotch whisky category must continue to strive for greater inspiration and innovation if it is to maintain its current trajectory, argues Neil Ridley.

Delivery/Distribution

Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed to buy the "key assets" of Californian distributor Markstein Beverage Co. The acquisition will hand control of Markstein's San Marcos operations near San Diego to A-B InBev.

Coca-Cola European Partners' venture capital unit has invested in Kol, an on-demand delivery service that aims to get beverages to consumers' doors in 30 minutes. CCEP Ventures has acquired a 25% stake in the Paris-based start-up for an undisclosed fee, and said the investment will help Kol expand its operations across the rest of France.


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