Carlsberg will look for more acquisitions in Asia after agreeing to pay $379m to become the leading shareholder in a top Chinese brewer, according to Jorn Jensen, the Danish group's chief financial officer.
The deal to increase Carlsberg's stake in Shanghai-listed Chongqing Brewery from 17.5 per cent to 29.7 per cent was part of a broader expansion strategy in the region, Mr Jensen said.
“When it comes to [mergers and acquisitions], the focus is on Asia”.
He added: “We want to expand our platform in Asia and we're particularly looking at China and Indo-China.”
Carlsberg is keen to develop Asia as an additional growth engine to reduce dependence on mature western European markets and the group's big but volatile Russian operations.
Only 13 per cent of group revenues come from Asia at present, compared with 44 per cent from Russia and eastern Europe and 43 per cent from western and northern Europe.
“Of all the growth in the global beer market over the next five years, the majority will come from Asia and particularly China,” said Mr Jensen.
Local and foreign brewers are engaged in fierce competition in China to acquire or expand production facilities to meet rising local demand.
Chongqing Brewery, based in central China, operates 15 nationwide breweries and ranks as a top-six domestic producer based on volume.
As well as Chongqing Beer, its main brands include Shancheng and 1958.
People familiar with the matter said that, with Carlsberg in effective control, Chongqing Brewery would now aim to become a top-four producer.
“This was a rare asset to buy and the sale interested the big global players,” said one person familiar with the matter.
Anheuser-Busch InBev and a mainland venture in which SABMiller owns a near-half stake were among those that expressed interest.
The 12.5 per cent stake was being sold by the Chinese brewer's state-owned parent, which will retain a 20 per cent stake in the listed company if the deal secures regulatory approval.