Japanese beer maker Asahi Group has agreed to acquire Calpis, a milk beverage producer and a wholly owned subsidiary of Ajinomoto, for approximately JPY120bn ($1.5bn).

The acquisition will make Calpis a wholly-owned subsidiary of Asahi and strengthen its domestic beverage business platform in the Japanese soft drinks industry.

By combining their management resources, both Asahi and Calpis will be able to strengthen and expand their domestic and overseas beverage businesses.

Both Asahi and Calpis have been in a partnership since May 2001 during which Asahi Soft Drinks, the core of Asahi’s beverage business, shared vending machines with Calpis.

The partnerships between Asahi and Calpis led to the establishment of Asahi Calpis Beverage in December 2007.

Asahi Calpis Beverage distributes beverages in vending machines, which are purchased from Asahi’s 100% subsidiary – Asahi Soft Drinks.

With the acquisition, Asahi plans to become a major global food and beverage company, whereas Asahi Soft Drinks formulated its fourth Medium-term Management Plan through 2012 to strengthen the company in the market and grab a share of 10% in the domestic soft drink market.

Calpis specializes in lactic acid drinks, including its flagship fermented milk beverage. It uses the microbial technology developed from the lactic acid bacteria and fermentation technologies dated over 90 years back to produce health functioning beverages.