RPT-Asahi to buy Calpis from Ajinomoto for $1.5 bln

Tue May 8, 2012 2:15am EDT

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TOKYO May 8 (Reuters) - Asahi Group Holdings said on Tuesday it would buy Japanese soft drinks maker Calpis Co for 120 billion yen ($1.5 billion) as the brewer works to lift its non-alcoholic beverage profits to help offset a shrinking domestic beer market.

Asahi's plan to buy Calpis from seasonings maker Ajinomoto Co was first flagged to the market last month in reports by Reuters and other media.

Meanwhile, Ajinomoto said it would buy back up to 7.39 percent of its outstanding shares, worth 50 billion yen. ($1 = 79.92 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Miki Kayaoka and Shinichi Saoshiro; Writing by James Topham; Editing by Joseph Radford)