PEP, Unitas toast $1.3bn liquor exit

The Australasian firms will sell Independent Liquor to Japan's Asahi Group - another example of Japanese firms expanding via cross-border M&A.

Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) and Unitas Capital are selling their respective 43.9 percent stakes in Independent Liquor, a New Zealand company whose products include  Martineau brandy, Haagen beer and Sanctuary wines, to a Japanese trade buyer.

The Asahi Group will pay  NZ$ 1.53 billion (€885 million; $1.27billion) to acquire the company from PEP, Unitas and other shareholders.

PEP and Unitas, previously known as CCMP Asia, reportedly paid $900 million to acquire their stakes in Independent Liquor in 2006. 

The agreement marks the end of a bidding process which was first reported earlier this month. Dow Jones had identified Japan’s Suntory Group and China’s Bright Food Group as the other suitors for the business.

Trade buyers, particularly those from Japan and China have been looking to expand their reach in the region through cross border acquisitions.

China’s state-owned Bright Food Group’s just this week reached an agreement to buy a 75 percent Manassen Foods from CHAMP Private Equity, in a deal worth more than A$500 million including debt.

Last month, Japanese beverage company Suntory Beverage and Food edged out the Carlyle Group to ink a joint venture with Indonesia’s Garudafood to produce, sell and distribute non-alcoholic beverage products in the world’s most populous Muslim country.