Asahi Selects Morgan Stanley to Sell Tsingtao Holding

Updated on
  • Japan’s biggest beermaker owns $1.1 billion stake in Tsingtao
  • Producer of “Super Dry” lager bought Tsingtao stake in 2009

Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., the largest Japanese beermaker, picked Morgan Stanley to advise on the potential sale of its minority stake in China’s Tsingtao Brewery Co., people with knowledge of the matter said.

Asahi’s plans to sell the Tsingtao holding are at an early stage, and no final decisions have been made, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The producer of “Super Dry” lager owns a 20 percent stake in Tsingtao worth about $1.1 billion based on the current share price in Hong Kong, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Tsingtao shares jumped as much as 7.8 percent in Hong Kong trading Thursday, the biggest intraday gain since February 2016, and were up 6.9 percent to HK$31.65 at 3:36 p.m. The benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 1.3 percent.

“Investors are expecting Tsingtao would be able to get a new strategic partner who can inject momentum and revitalize the brand,” Steven Leung, a Hong Kong-based executive director at UOB Kay Hian, said by phone Thursday. “Asahi has been sitting on this investment for so long and hasn’t been able to give much boost to Tsingtao’s overseas expansion.”

Selling the Tsingtao stake, which Asahi bought in 2009, would give the Japanese brewer firepower to fund further acquisitions after it agreed last year to purchase European beer brands including Pilsner Urquell. Asahi President Akiyoshi Koji said in a January interview the company will decide this year on options for its Tsingtao stake, as “ownership without control doesn’t make much sense.”

Tsingtao said in a Hong Kong exchange filing Thursday it will keep monitoring the situation and continue communication with Asahi. Representatives for Asahi and Morgan Stanley declined to comment.

— With assistance by Grace Huang, Yuji Nakamura, and Rachel Chang

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