Asahi Breweries today (24 April) announced that it has launched a bid to acquire a 50% stake in Japanese baby food manufacturer Wakodo.

Asahi, Japan's biggest brewer, said that the friendly tender offer was part of the company's plan to invest aggressively in business ventures with good potential for future growth. Asahi said that it intends to grow its third core business, food and pharmaceuticals, bringing it in-line with its alcoholic beverage and soft drinks interests.

Wakodo has the dominant market share of the baby food sector and manufacturers powdered milk, skin care, food and food ingredients products.

Drug maker Daiichi Sankyo, which holds a 60.14% stake in Wakodo via subsidiaries, has agreed to sell a stake to Asahi via the tender offer. Asahi Breweries also said that Wakodo's board has agreed to its tender offer.

The brewer said it was attracted to Wakodo by the 'safe and reliable' brand image, customer loyalty and modern food processing technology, which positioned Wakodo for future growth. "In the 2/5 coming aging society, we expect that our strong growth in the senior age level food business can be achieved by applying Wakodo's outstanding food processing technologies and its customer reliability."

Asahi said that it would work closely with Wakodo, integrating each company's resources to strengthen the businesses.

"Innovative products can be introduced by combining Asahi Breweries' technologies in healthy additives etc, and Wakodo's technologies so as to utilize them over a much larger manufacturing base and to provide various satisfying products to the wide-range customers.

"Distribution and marketing power should be reinforced by sharing distribution channels and marketing infrastructure of the two companies. Furthermore, the baby foods business can be expanded to overseas markets by utilising Asahi Breweries' overseas infrastructure; especially in the East-Asian markets where significant market growth is expected," Asahi said in a statement.