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Drinks

Sapporo To Refocus On Beer Business As Activist Raises Stake

By Reuters
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Sapporo To Refocus On Beer Business As Activist Raises Stake

Sapporo Holdings, the Japanese brewer pressured by activist investors to sell its property holdings, wants to announce its business portfolio reorganisation "as soon as possible", the company's president said.

Singapore-based 3D Investment Partners raised its stake in Sapporo several times in recent months to become the largest single shareholder with a 16% stake. The fund has criticised Sapporo for focusing too much on its real estate business.

Masaki Oga, who has led Sapporo since 2017, declined to specify timing or details for the transformation, but agreed with complaints raised by 3D and others that the company needed to refocus on beer and improve corporate value.

"To announce something half baked wouldn't be very good for external parties, and also within the company," Oga, 65, said in an interview. "If there is a certain piece that has been clearly decided, then of course we may announce that part alone."

Growth Plan

Last week alongside full year results, Sapporo outlined a growth plan that acknowledged its current mix of businesses have led to 'scattered resources and issues of intra-group competition'.

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With its domestic beer business unlikely to grow significantly due to Japan's declining population, the company plans to actively consider mergers and acquisitions overseas.

North America and Asia are the most attractive due to their size and the company's familiarity with the markets, Oga said, adding that the primary aim would be to expand its flagship Sapporo brand, known overseas for its tall, silver can.

The company has a mixed history managing other brands. It purchased San Francisco's Anchor Brewing for $85 million in 2017 only to shutter the 127-year-old company last year.

"Anchor was a company that was really struggling, but in a way, there was this naive expectation that if we worked together, we could improve things a little," Oga said. "But a company has to be able to generate profits."

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