UPDATE 1-Asahi in final negotiations to buy Calpis - Nikkei

April 27 Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:37pm EDT

April 27 (Reuters) - Asahi Group Holdings Ltd is in final negotiations with Ajinomoto Co to buy its beverage unit Calpis Co in a deal that may be valued at around 100 billion yen ($1.24 billion), The Nikkei business daily reported.

Asahi, which currently ranks fourth in the domestic soft-drink market with a 9.9 percent share, would move up to the third place with a 12.4 percent share after the deal, the paper said.

An agreement on the deal -- the biggest yet in Japan's soft-drink market -- is likely to happen as early as next month, the paper said.

Asahi would get Calpis' brand power for lactic acid beverages. It already collaborates with Calpis in vending machines, the daily said.

Asahi's soft-drink business is expected to generate sales of about 342.7 billion yen this year, while operating profit is seen at 16.5 billion yen, the business daily said.

The deal will take Asahi's soft-drink sales to more than 450 billion yen and operating profit above 20 billion yen, the Japanese daily said.

Earlier this month, Asahi was outbid by Molson Coors Brewing Co in its attempt to buy eastern European brewer StarBev from private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

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