Five Asahi Liquor Brands Sold to Heineken

In a deal which satisfies regulatory conditions related to Asahi’s purchase of Carlton & United Breweries, the company has sold the Australian rights to five liquor brands, including Strongbow and Stella Artois, to rival Heineken.

Heineken will take over three cider brands – Strongbow, Little Green and Bonamy’s – along with beer labels Stella Artois and Beck’s and their perpetual licenses for the market.

Asahi agreed to a court-enforceable undertaking to divest the five brands when it was given approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to acquire CUB. Asahi is also obligated to ensure the brands receive the same access to bars, pubs and clubs as well as retail stores.

The deal sees Strongbow in Australia reunited with the global Strongbow portfolio after 17 years. The cider brand was first produced by HP Bulmer, founded in 1887, which was bought by Scottish & Newcastle in 2003. Fosters, the predecessor of CUB, bought Scottish & Newcastle’s Australian and New Zealand assets in 1983, while Heineken led a consortium to buy the rest of the business.

“We are thrilled to bring the Strongbow brand in Australia home to Heineken and scale up our beer and cider portfolio in one of the world’s leading beer and cider markets,” said Jacco van der Linden, president of Heineken APAC in a statement announcing the deal.

“This acquisition shows that Heineken remains active in pursuing growth where we see opportunities that align with our long-term strategy.”

The brands will be distributed throughout Australia by Drinkworks, a wholly-owned Heineken subsidiary, joining its premium beer and cider portfolio which already includes Tiger, Sol, Monteith’s beer and cider and Orchard Thieves cider.

Asahi said the sale marked a significant step in the path towards acquiring CUB, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

“There will be no manufacturing job losses nor brewery closures associated with this (Heineken) deal,” the company said in a statement.