Asahi still looks to buy Aussie firm


Asahi Breweries Ltd. remains in talks to acquire P&N Beverages Australia Pty., a deal that was blocked by a regulator on concerns it would reduce competition, according to Asahi President Naoki Izumiya.

“We want to conclude this acquisition within the legal framework, as we first planned,” Izumiya said Monday. “We’re still in negotiations. We can’t say when our targeted completion date is.”

Asahi, owner of Schweppes Australia, the country’s second-largest soft drink maker, was blocked in March from buying P&N Beverages Australia. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission raised concerns the deal would diminish competition and increase Asahi’s ability to raise prices. Asahi said at the time it will continue to seek approval.

The company is seeking acquisitions and alliances to expand overseas sales as the domestic beer market shrank about 20 percent since a peak in 1994. Asahi may spend ¥400 billion on acquisitions by 2012, Izumiya said in February.

The brewer had offered 364 million Australian dollars ($392 million) for closely held P&N in August to add labels including Frantelle Spring Water to the Pepsi and Schweppes brands it bottles in Australia.