Japan's Asahi Group Holdings said Thursday that it would buy Independent Liquor of New Zealand for $1.28 billion, its biggest ever acquisition as the beverage giant looks to boost its overseas presence.
Asahi, known for its popular "Super Dry" beer, said it will pay NZ$1.53 billion, or 97.6 billion yen for all outstanding shares in Flavoured Beverages Group Holdings, which entirely holds Independent Liquor, from private equity firms Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital.
New Zealand's leading ready-to-drink cocktails maker, Independent Liquor is also ranked third in Australia's alcoholic ready-to-drink market.
It is known for its pre-mixed drinks such as Vodka Cruiser and KGB and also makes and markets brands such as Whyte & Mackay whisky, Vladivar Vodka and Carlsberg beer.
The deal is scheduled to be completed by the end of September, subject to regulatory approval from New Zealand and Australian authorities.
Japanese firms have sought to expand in foreign markets as domestic sales suffer from slow consumption by the country's shrinking and ageing population.
A surging yen has also encouraged Japanese firms to invest abroad, with other beverage makers such as Kirin and Suntory also hunting for foreign purchases.
Asahi already has a foothold in the Australian soft drinks market through Schweppes Australia, acquired in 2009.
The latest deal comes on the heels of Asahi's binding share purchase agreement to buy 100 percent of the shares of mineral water and juice maker P&N Beverages Australia, the third largest soft drinks company by volume in Australia.
It also plans to acquire New Zealand soft drink maker Charlie's Group Limited through a takeover offer.
In July the Japanese beverage giant reached an agreement with Malaysia's CI Holdings to buy its Permanis unit in a deal worth roughly $282 million.
Permanis, Malaysia's second-largest soft drinks maker by sales volume, has exclusive rights to bottle, market and sell PepsiCo brands such as Pepsi, 7-Up, Gatorade and Tropicana in the country.
Asahi rival Kirin Holdings said earlier this month it would buy a company that holds a majority stake in Brazilian brewer Schincariol for roughly $2.6 billion.
In Tokyo trade, Asahi shares were up 2.20 percent to 1,624 following the deal.
The deal comes amid heightened activity in the beverage industry.
British-based SABMiller's US$10-billion takeover bid for Australian beer giant Foster's Group turned hostile on Wednesday as the world's second biggest brewer decided to take its offer direct to shareholders.
SABMiller, which makes beers Grolsch and Miller Lite, said its offer was unchanged at Aus$4.90 per Foster's share, or about Aus$9.5 billion (7.0 billion euros) after its initial approach was rejected in June.