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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Asahi Buying Calpis for $1.5 Billion

I know why they did it, I just don't understand why they did it that way. Surely there are better ways to blow one's money.

Asahi, a Japanese brewer responsible for many a great binge drinking night for myself back in the1990s, has confirmed it will purchase softdrink manufacturer Aijinomoto Co.'s Calpis brand for Cdn/US $1.5 billion (~¥120 billion) which will make it the #3non-alcoholic beverage maker in the Japan.

With your author no longer residing in Japan, and combined with a crippled Japanese economy, the brewer was searching for ways to supplement its revenue.

Enter the Calpis.

Calpis is a milky-drink that is supposedly popular with young kids. Calpis (カルピス Karupisu) is a uncarbonated beverage with a milky, acidic flavor that makes it taste like (my opinion) spoiled plan yogurt. Its ingredients are: water, non-fat dry milk (I think that means powdered) (yes, it does!) and lactic acid, and is supposedly produced by lactic acid fermentation - which is the way one might make yogurt, if you wanted to make yogurt.  

The Calpis brand is also available in a pre-diluted drink called Calpis Water (you can't dilute enough for my liking), as well as a carbonated version called Calpis Soda (this was also just wrong). 

I've had all three Calpis brands, and I'm a big kid and like sweet stuff, but there's a reason why I call Calpis: cow-piss. It's awful, in my opinion. Of course, that's just me, and despite me not liking Calpis, the beverage manufacturer still managed to grow the company.

Of course, if you've been following the news - I haven't - but this new $1.5 billion deal comes on the heels of a total of $3.7 billion in deals for Asahi over the past five years.

If the brewer was hurting, you sure wouldn't know about it from the way it's tossing around the cash. Personally, with a crappy economy, you figure more people would try to drown their sorrows in an alcoholic haze. I'm not saying it's the right thing to do, of course, but hey! who doesn't want Asahi to become an even bigger entity?

In case you forgot, Ashai also recently purchased beverage-maker Schweppes' Australian biz, Independent Liquor (a New Zealand company), and China's Tsintao Brewery (a damn fine beer, actually!).

The New Zealand deal was for $1.2 billion - the highest amount Asahi has yet bantered about - not bad considering I had never even heard of Independent Liquor before that last paragraph. 

Says Asahi president Izumiya Naoki (surname first): "Calpis is a top dairy product with a bright image as a safe and healthy product and strong brand recognition. We do not have dairy products, so it will be a good compliment to our product portfolio.

"If you have a brand that is number one, or a strong number two, in its category, the strength of that portfolio will allow for growth, even in a tough market."

The deal for the Calpis brand should be completed by October once Asahi raises some borrowing money and stops paying for turd art (see photo below).

My photo of the Ashai Flame beside the foam-topped Asahi HQ in Tokyo.
With the purchase of Calpis, Asahi will move ahead of rival brewer Kirin Group Holdings and tea maker Ito En in Japan's soft drinks market - but it is still behind Coca-Cola Enterprises and Suntory Holdings.

As for Ajinomoto, what to do with $1.5 billion? Perhaps a trip to Hawaii, and maybe buy a new Ferrari? Oh... and get laid. Divorce the wife and then get laid again. At least that is what I would do. But apparently Ajinomoto is looking to use the money to create mergers and acquisitions with seasonings, food and biotech firms. Borrrr-rinnng!

Anyhow... I've slagged the hell out of Cow-piss, I mean Calpiss, I mean Calpis (sorry, I have no idea where the backspace button is!), but it must have a loyal following, and it must be something decent for Asahi to have over-paid for, but it must figure on making its money back in the long-term.  

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

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