Fri, Aug 21, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Kirin adds stake in Myanmar brewery

AFP, TOKYO

Kirin Holdings Co has acquired control of Myanmar’s biggest brewer, a company spokesman said yesterday, as the Japanese beverage giant moves to counter slowing growth at home by tapping Southeast Asian markets.

The firm’s Singapore unit purchased a 55 percent stake in Myanmar Brewery Ltd, which makes popular local brands and has an extensive nationwide sales network, from Fraser and Neave Ltd for US$560 million.

“The beer market in Myanmar is still small, but we expect it will expand,” a Japan-based Kirin spokesman said, calling Myanmar Brewery a “promising partner.”

Myanmar Brewery, which has about 1,000 employees, reported sales of around US$200 million last year.

In a statement announcing the deal, Kirin said it hoped the acquisition would “further strengthen its business in the Southeast Asian region.”

Kirin operates a beer business in the Philippines with a local firm and already has operations in Singapore and Vietnam.

Investors in Tokyo cheered the deal, with Kirin shares adding 0.99 percent yesterday afternoon as the broader market turned down.

Japanese brewers have seen a slump in beer sales as younger people lose interest in the country’s business drinking culture, which boosted sales for decades.

Unlike its Western allies, Japan maintained trade ties and dialogue with Myanmar during junta rule, which ended in 2011, saying a hard line could push it closer to China.

However, they are expected to face competition from international rivals in Myanmar.

Dutch beer giant Heineken Brouwerijen BV last month said it has opened a US$60 million brewery, with a total capacity of 330,000 hectoliters per year which will directly employ more than 200 local people.

Myanmar clocked GDP growth of 7.7 percent for the year ending March, according to the Asian Development Bank.

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