Japan’s Sapporo to take over Pokka soft drink maker

Japanese brewer Sapporo Holdings will turn soft drink maker Pokka into a subsidiary to boost its beverage business amid a shrinking domestic market, the two companies said Thursday.

The 21.27 billion yen ($257 million) deal comes at a time of heightened merger and acquisition activity in Japan’s beverage market as companies grappling with a declining population at home search for growth.

Sapporo, which has a 21.4-percent stake in Pokka, will raise its holding to 85.5 percent to make Pokka its consolidated subsidiary.

The fourth-largest Japanese brewer will boost its stake through the purchase of shares from investment fund Advantage Partners, dairy food and confectionery maker Meiji Seika Kaisha and others on March 29.

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