THE FOSTER’S Group has ceased manufacturing beer in China with the sale of its Shanghai brewery operations and local Chinese beer brands to Japanese beverage company Suntory Limited.
Jones Day partner Chris Ahern and associates Adam Salter and Adeline Cheok acted for Suntory, while Jeremy Davis, Vanessa Smith, Kristy Parsons, Stewart Grieve and Rhys Jewell of Corrs Chambers Westgarth acted for Foster’s. The price paid for the assets was undisclosed.
Ahern said the deal had the novel factor of the assets being in China, the vendor being an Australian company and the acquirer being Japanese.
Jones Day’s Sydney office worked with its Shanghai and Hong Kong offices to effect the transaction within the timeframe. “Being able to do that in one firm made it possible,” Ahern said, pointing out that trying to coordinate different firms might have delayed completion.
Suntory viewed the assets very differently to the way Foster’s did, said Ahern. While Foster’s had four per cent of the brewing market in Shanghai, Suntory had more than 50 per cent, and already had three breweries in the market.
“What could be a large problem, having 300 staff come across, wasn’t such a large commercial issue because they already had such big operations. They will be able to use the Foster’s facilities to increase their brewing capacity and maybe utilise them better than Foster’s had,” Ahern said.