Rumours that Asahi is weighing up a bid for SABMiller’s Peroni and Grolsch lager brands, which first appeared in a Japanese newspaper at the weekend, have made more headlines this morning. The Financial Times and The Mail report the move could spark a costly global takeover battle with competition from potential rivals such as Heineken, Molson Coors and cider maker C&C Group. Asahi said on Tuesday that it was studying various capital tie-ups, including the acquisition of the two brands, with the news sending its shares down as much as 3.4% in Tokyo trading. Yomiuri Shimbun, the Tokyo paper which first reported the news said the assets could be valued at as much as Y400bn ($3.4bn).
The FT also reports that AB InBev is readying a potential bond offering later this week, as the group lines up financing for its $108bn takeover of rival SABMiller. The paper writes that bankers in New York and London have been gauging investor interest in what could be a record breaking debt offering.
The Telegraph picks up the latest Kantar market share data and notes that although sales are rising at Aldi and Lidl, growth is tailing off at their older UK stores. The latest figures showed Aldi and Lidl recorded a 13.3% and 18.5% jump in sales respectively, but analysis revealed like-for-like sales growth was now broadly flat to 1%. But the FT headline notes that the two discounters still delivered a blow to their rivals and secured a Christmas increase. Indeed, as The Guardian points out Asda suffered an unhappy Christmas thanks to Aldi and Lidl, with sales at retailer slumping 3.5% over the festive period while Tesco and Morrisons also lost market share, with only Sainsbury’s fighting back.
Morrisons positive Christmas trading statement also gained plenty of coverage, as it first sales growth in four years came as it won back customers over the Christmas period (The FT). The Guardian adds that the supermarket is also to close seven stores with the potential loss of nearly 700 jobs despite achieving the surprise increase in sales over Christmas. Shares in the business also soared almost 9% to 165.5p as it revealed a better-than-expected 0.2% rise in like-for-like sales in the nine weeks to 3 January.
The Telegraph and The Independent both pick up on The Grocer’s exclusive that Cadbury is launching an Easter fightback in the wake of suffering multi-million pound losses on its Creme Eggs after a controversial change of the chocolate recipe last year.
McDonald’s faces a probe from the European Commission over treatment of its franchisees, with the fast-food group potential looking at penalties as high as 10% of its global turnover (The Independent). The Telegraph said McDonalds was accuses of abusing its dominant market position to enforce anti-competitive terms on its franchisees.
There is also room in The FT for news that Greggs is expanding its range of healthy options and coffee as it strives to counter a slowdown in sales growth over the Christmas period. The baker revealed in a trading update that like-for-like sales in its shops rose 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2015, compared with 6% a year earlier. The Telegraph’s Questor column writes that the baker and sandwich maker suffered a fierce sell-off as a result, with shares down as much as 14%. However, Questor still rated the long-term prospects of the business.
Finally, Co-op Group former procurement director Kath Harmeston was “too grand” to bother with the basic details of her job, a tribunal has been told (The Times). The senior manage alleges she was ousted by the group before she planned to expose widespread malpractice.