SYDNEY Feb 14 Japanese brewer Asahi Group
Holdings Ltd is suing Pacific Equity Partners and
Unitas Capital Pte Ltd, alleging they inflated the earnings of
the Independent Liquor business it acquired in 2011 for NZ$1.5
billion ($1.3 billion).
Individual directors and investment funds controlled by the
two private equity firms are also targeted by the legal action
filed by Asahi Holdings Australia and Independent Liquor New
Zealand, both Japanese registered subsidiaries of Asahi Group,
in Australia's Federal Court.
Asahi, the maker of Japan's top-selling "Super Dry" beer, is
seeking unspecified damages for losses after an internal
investigation uncovered what the company claims was misleading
and deceptive conduct.
Asahi bought Flavoured Beverage Group Holdings Ltd, the
parent company of Independent Liquor, from PEP and Unitas at a
time Japanese brewers were on a spending spree across Asia and
The acquisition of Independent Liquor, known for its
"Woodstock Bourbon" and "Vodka Cruiser" brands, was part of
Asahi's bid to boost revenue growth amid a shrinking home beer
"It is very disappointing that PEP and Unitas have engaged
in this misconduct," Asahi Holdings Australia Managing Director
Atsushi Katsuki said in an emailed statement.
"We conducted due diligence thoroughly and in good faith and
relied on the figures provided to us," he added. "We are seeking
maximum recovery of our loss and we have commenced legal
proceedings for this purpose."
PEP, Australia's largest buyout firm, did not immediately
return calls seeking comment. Unitas could not immediately be
($1 = 1.1885 New Zealand dollars)
(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Richard Pullin)