Is Asahi barking at the moon after yet another foreign beer takeover?

Asahi’s purchase of Fuller’s Pride in west London for £250million is the latest in a long line of foreign acquisitions by the Japanese brewer.

Fuller’s Pride in West London

Unlike most Japanese companies who prefer the steady path of organic growth, especially in overseas markets, Asahi has been aggressive in taking over foreign beverage businesses.

Two of the most notable was the $2billion acquisition of Peroni, Grolsch and Meantime and Schweppes Australia. International business now accounts for just over 30% of Asahi group’s revenue, far from insignificant.

However the company’s success internationally has not been a one-way street. Management was left crying in its beer in China, where it ultimately sold its stake in Tsingtao.

Pulling off M&A deals is one feat. Integrating the business, innovating, keeping and enthusing your talent pool are altogether different challenges.

Asahi’s Japanese rival Suntory experienced these challenges following its 2014 purchase of Beam, where many key executives promptly departed.

Fuller’s Pride is not close to Beam in scale, however one wonders whether there is a strategic plan? The small print of the deal reveals that Asahi has not acquired Fuller’s trademarks and will merely license them. So it has paid for a brewery, some prime land in Chiswick and a London distribution network. Fuller’s brand whilst well known in west London has little equity or saliency outside the M25.

Will Fuller’s Pride be promoted in Japan?

Or is Fuller’s just another Asahi head hunting scalp that will be quickly forgotten?

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