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JAPAN: Asahi approaches Calpis buyout - report

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Asahi Group is said to be on the verge of buying Japanese soft-drinks maker Calpis Co for US$1.2bn.

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The story surfaced earlier today (27 April) in the Nikkei newspaper($$$), which cited two unnamed sources close to the deal. The deal would make Asahi the third-largest non-alcoholic drinks maker in Japan if it goes ahead.

The Calpis deal will be announced early next month, the Nikkei sources said.

However, in a statement, the company said it was  “considering such a purchase, but nothing specific has been decided”. The company did not respond to a just-drinks request for comment on the report.

Asahi is Japan's fourth-largest soft-drinks maker with 9.9% domestic marketshare, Nikkei reported. The deal would up its share to 12.4%.

Calpis is owned by Ajinomoto Co.

The move would be the latest in a recent spate of mergers and acquisitions by Japanese companies. Last year, Asahi acquired New Zealand's Charlie's Group and gained regulatory approval to acquire Australia's P&N Beverages. It also bought Independent Liquor Group in New Zealand, for NZD1.53bn (JPY98.2bn, US$1.19bn). Also last year, Sapporo acquired all outstanding shares in fellow Japanese food and drink group Pokka.

Japan starts its ten-day Golden Week holiday tomorrow and most businesses will not open again until 7 May.


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