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Asahi Breweries has agreed to acquire P&N Beverages, the third largest soft drinks company in Australia in its latest move towards the goal of joining the ranks of the biggest global food companies, according to FoodNavigator.com.

In April last year, Asahi bought Schweppes Australia from Cadbury and the company now wants to deepen its presence in the country.

In a deal worth AUDS$364 million (NZD$463 million), the Japanese firm has bought P&N which has a wide portfolio of branded and private label soft drinks in Australia and a turnover of AUS$384.7 million.

The report said through the latest acquisition, Asahi aims to enhance its position in the Australian beverage market and take advantage of operational synergies with the Schweppes business. P&N and Schweppes will now set up an integration executive committee to see how these efficiency gains can best be achieved.

The acquisition also fits into a broader plan to join the ranks of the top global food companies in terms of size. In December last year, the firm said it planned to increase total sales from around ¥1.5 trillion in 2009 to ¥2-2.5 trillion in 2015.

Part of that plan is to shift the focus of the business from the Japanese beer market, which has been struggling in recent years as tastes diversify, the population ages, and the economy falters.

Asahi instead plans to target faster growing foreign markets. It has set the goal of increasing the overseas share of total sales to between 20% and 30% by 2015.

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