Heineken N.V. (HEINEKEN) is acquiring cider brand Strongbow from Asahi Group Holdings Limited (Asahi) in Australia, along with two other cider brands, Little Green and Bonamy’s. The company will also gain the perpetual licenses on beer brands Stella Artois and Beck’s in Australia. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and comes after a successful bid for these brands when Asahi put them up for sale as a condition from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for their acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).
Asahi has provided a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC to divest the five brands. The undertaking also requires Asahi to ensure the divested brands receive the same access to bars, pubs and clubs as well as off-premise space under tap-tying agreements as Asahi’s brands until June 2023.1
Strongbow in Australia reunites with global Strongbow portfolio after 17 years
Strongbow was first produced by H.P Bulmer, which was founded in 1887 by Percy Bulmer, the 20-year old son of a local clergyman. Ownership of the brand went to Scottish & Newcastle when they acquired H.P Bulmer in 2003. In Australia and New Zealand, Scottish & Newcastle’s interests were sold to Foster’s, CUB’s predecessor, which inherited the Strongbow brand in these two countries. In 2008, as part of a consortium, HEINEKEN acquired Scottish & Newcastle along with the Strongbow brand.
Today, Strongbow is HEINEKEN’s leading cider brand globally, sold in more than 40 countries. The acquisition of the Strongbow brand in Australia marks a milestone as it reunites with the global Strongbow portfolio after 17 years.
“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. This acquisition shows that HEINEKEN remains active in pursuing growth where we see opportunities that align with our long-term strategy," said Jacco van der Linden, President of HEINEKEN APAC.
The five brands being acquired will be distributed in Australia by Drinkworks, a wholly owned subsidiary of HEINEKEN. This will strengthen Drinkworks’ existing premium beer and cider
1 From ACCC media release: Asahi-CUB deal subject to cider and beer divestments portfolio in Australia which includes Tiger, Sol, Monteith’s beer and cider and Orchard Thieves cider.
Financial terms are not disclosed.