Ajinomoto Co., the nation’s largest food maker, may sell a stake in its Calpis Co. milk beverages unit to beermaker Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. as brewers grapple with a seven-year decline in consumption by volume.
The company is considering a sale of shares in the unit to Asahi, Ajinomoto said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday. No decision has been made, Asahi said in a separate statement after the Nikkei newspaper reported the brewer could pay ¥100 billion for Calpis.
Asahi, the largest brewer by volume, has become the nation’s most acquisitive beverage maker after announcing eight deals worth ¥146.3 billion in the past 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Its purchases include the 1.53 billion New Zealand dollar ($1.2 billion) purchase of Independent Liquor Group, the world’s fourth-largest producer of bottled cocktails, as it tries to counter sliding demand at home, where beer sales fell last year to the lowest since records began in 1992.
“I’d expected Asahi to focus on overseas M&As, but I think its choice is reasonable,” said Masashi Mori, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in Tokyo. “The deal may be a bit costly for Asahi, which I think is one of the reasons why the stock is falling.”
Both Asahi and Ajinomoto are based in Tokyo.
Ajinomoto paid about ¥52 billion for a 75 percent stake in Calpis in 2007, about 23 percent more than the market price at the time, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.