Asahi Group Holdings has been busy in the last year, buying and selling assets

Asahi Group Holdings has been busy in the last year, buying and selling assets

Asahi Group Holdings has started the wheels rolling on a potential divestment of its stake in China's Tsingtao Brewery Co.

The Japan-based group, which is in the process of consolidating its assets while also looking to acquire new growth engines, confirmed late last week that it has "commenced an evaluation" of its 20% holding in the Chinese brewer. No potential acquirer was mentioned in the filing to the Tokyo Stock Exchange, although one analyst suggested earlier this year that Carlsberg would be the "logical buyer".

The Danish brewer declined to comment on the speculation at the time.

"We are engaging in efforts to restructure our business portfolio with a focus on asset efficiency, to assess whether each business contributes to sustainable enhancement of corporate value," Asahi said. "As a result of our review of our investment in the beer business in China during the course of such process, we decided to commence an evaluation of a potential transfer of all or part of our stake in Tsingtao Brewery."

Asahi acquired the Tsingtao holding from Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2009, for US$667m. Tsingtao is the second largest brewer in China, behind CR Snow, with around 15% market share, according to Euromonitor International.

Earlier this month, the Japanese company readied the sale of its stakes in two soft drinks joint-ventures in Indonesia. The move came four months after it agreed to divest 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, then 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.

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