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The Asahi Breweries Ltd. management has rejected a shareholder proposal to come to the rescue of embattled peer Sapporo Holdings Ltd., which is seeking to defend itself against a buyout bid by U.S. investment fund Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund L.P.

“Although we are ready to consider a merger and acquisition to grow, we will not consider doing so if the relevant party is a domestic alcoholic business entity,” Asahi board member Kazuo Motoyama told a shareholders meeting Tuesday.

Motoyama was responding to a proposal by a shareholder who called on management to rescue Sapporo Holdings if the rival contacted Asahi for help.

“Sapporo Holdings is now in a crisis, so you should bail them out if they beg for help,” the shareholder told the meeting.

But Motoyama, promoted to the post of managing director at a board meeting following the shareholders’ meeting, told the investors, “Our midterm business program does not presuppose that we may tie up with Sapporo Holdings.”

Meanwhile, shareholders endorsed another motion for Asahi Breweries to arm itself with defense measures to repel any future would-be acquirer.

On Feb. 17, Asahi President Hitoshi Ogita said the company has no plans to conduct business and capital tieups with Sapporo, saying it cannot expect to have synergy effects from such a deal.

Two days earlier, Steel Partners announced a buyout bid for Sapporo, Japan’s third-largest beer maker, raising speculation that Asahi, the country’s industry leader, may step forward as a white knight.

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