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Kirin offers to buy Australian brewer Lion Nathan

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[April 23, 2009]  SYDNEY (AP) -- Lion Nathan Ltd., the Australian brewer of Tooheys and Hahn beers, said Thursday its biggest shareholder, Japan's Kirin Holdings Co., has offered to buy the 54 percent of Lion it doesn't already own.

DonutsThe price of the offer from Japan's biggest drinks maker wasn't disclosed but it would be worth nearly 2.4 billion Australian dollars ($1.7 billion) at Lion Nathan's closing share price Wednesday of AU$8.31.

For Kirin, the move would represent another step in the Tokyo-based company's ambitions to expand and diversify its global operations. Growth in Japan's food and beverage sector has been sluggish, with a shrinking population eroding the overall customer base. The company aims to raise its overseas sales ratio to 30 percent by 2015.

Lion Nathan, which also brews Steinlager, Speights and other beers in New Zealand, requested Thursday that its shares be halted from trading while it considers Kirin's proposal.

It said it was setting up an independent board committee to "clarify and confirm" Kirin's offer on behalf of minority shareholders.

Lion Nathan in February scrapped a AU$7.6 billion Kirin-backed bid to takeover the Australian unit of The Coca-Cola Company after Coca-Cola rejected the price as too low.

Kirin entered the Australian dairy business in 2007 when it purchased National Foods for $2.68 billion.

It also announced plans in February to buy a 43 percent take in the brewery unit of Philippine food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corp.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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