AUSTRALIA – The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has cleared the sale of acquisition of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev)-owned Carlton & United Breweries by Asahi Group for AUD16 billion ( ̴ US$11billion).

The deal between the Belgian multinational brewer and Asahi Group was announced in July 2019. By then, AB InBev said that all of the proceeds from the divestiture of the Australian business would be used by the company to pay down debt.

The maker of Stella Artois and Budweiser also said that the divestment will further help the company to accelerate its expansion into other fast-growing markets in the APAC region and globally.

While the deal was still awaiting the necessary clearance, Carlton & United Breweries announced in September last year that it has acquired Australian wine company Riot Wine Co, for an undisclosed sum.

The deal marked Carlton & United Breweries’ entry into the wine category, expanding outside its key beer portfolio which includes Foster’s and Victoria Bitter and craft acquisitions Pirate Life and Four Pines.

Carlton said it planned to invest further into the Riot business, by helping the company upgrade its cellar door and a new canning line in the inner western Adelaide suburb of Brompton. creating a revamped hospitality space with food and wine.

AB InBev said that following ACCC’s go ahead, it now expects the transaction to close as soon as possible in the second quarter of 2020 after the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval process is completed.

As the brewer continues to implement its business continuity plan, AB InBev recently announced that it has withdrawan its 2020 Outlook entirety because of the impact of COVID-19.

While presenting its results for the 2019 financial year, AB InBeV said that it expected to achieve an EBITDA growth of 2-5% in 2020, with the majority of the growth to be delivered in the second half of the year.

However, the scale and magnitude of COVID-19 has increased significantly, resulting in restrictions imposed on many customers, as well as other limitations and social distancing measures in many countries.

Given the uncertainty, volatility and fast-moving developments of the pandemic in the markets in which AB InBev operates, the company withdrew its 2020 outlook.

“We continue to implement our business continuity plans and are preparing for a strong recovery, learning from the experiences of our operations across the world,” Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of AB InBev said.

“Our diverse geographic footprint, unparalleled portfolio of brands, clear commercial strategy and talented people will continue to take us forward.”