Asahi bids for P&N, Charlie’s Juices

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 6th July 2011

Charlie’s JuicesJapanese beverage giant Asahi has announced takeover bids for two major Australasian beverage companies, P&N Beverages and Charlie’s Juices.

Asahi, which purchased Schweppes in 2009, has entered into a binding agreement to purchase 100% of shares in P&N, which it will then divide, selling the company’s carbonated soft drinks and cordials arm on to Tru Blu Beverages, while retaining P&N’s water and juice businesses. The split comes as an attempt to appease the ACCC, which opposed the takeover in March on the grounds of reduced competition.

The company said that, after the sale of the carbonated soft drink business, that the net purchase price for P&N amounted to $188 million.

P&N is Australia’s third-largest beverage producer behind Coca-Cola Amatil and Schweppes, manufacturing a large number of private-label and minor-label beverages

The takeover of P&N will be subject to approval from the ACCC and the Foreign Investment Review Board.

On the same day, Asahi announced a bid for New Zealand organic beverage group Charlie’s, which manufactures Charlie’s Juices and Phoenix Organics, which recently expanded distribution into Coles.

The takeover offer for Charlie’s, estimated at NZ$130 million (A$100.4 million), is subject to approval by Charlie’s shareholders, however the Japanese giant has secured lock-in agreements with key shareholders, including Collins Asset Management Ltd and founders Stefan Lepionka, Marc Ellis and Simon Neal, amounting to 52.17% of Charlie’s shares.

Asahi also noted in a release that it is able to waive a 90% shareholder acceptance condition at its discretion, requiring only more than 50% of the company’s shares for takeover. The move is also dependent on approval from the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office.

“The acquisition of Charlie’s will further strengthen Asahi’s overseas beverages business and
provide an entry into the New Zealand market. In tandem with Asahi’s existing operations in
Australia, through Schweppes Australia, this will help consolidate its platform for future growth
in the Asia Pacific region,” said a release from the company.

The company outlined plans to use the new P&N assets to strengthen its Schweppes product portfolio and streamline its supply chain management.

“Under Asahi’s long-term vision, Asahi aims to increase its sales to JPY 2–2.5 trillion, increase its share of overseas sales to 20-30% and join the ranks of the top global food companies in scale, while becoming a trusted company with global quality by 2015,” Asahi said in a statement.

“To achieve this goal, Asahi will drive growth in its existing businesses as well as expand its overseas investment activities to achieve further synergies.

“Through the acquisition of P&N’s water and juice businesses, in line with the above policy, Asahi aims to enhance its position within the Australian beverage market by enabling Schweppes to strengthen its product portfolio and gain efficiencies in supply chain management.”