Kirin to take over Lion

On 27 April Lion Nathan issued a media release saying its board had agreed to terms for Kirin’s takeover of the company. Japanese based Kirin currently holds about 46 per cent of Lion. The board’s recommendation of the takeover and terms is subject to no better offer emerging and confirmation from an independent expert that the offer is ‘in the best interests of Lion Nathan’s non-Kirin shareholders’.

Assuming the takeover goes through, Kirin will own the Hahn, XXXX, Malt Shovel/James Squire, Tooheys, Boags, West End, Swan, Emu, Waikato, Macs, Steinlager, Lion, Speights and Knappstein beer brands as well the rights to brew under licence, and distribute, Heineken and Beck’s beers.

It will also give to Kirin ownership of a range of premium wine brands – Stonier, Knappstein, Tatachilla, Wither Hills, St Hallet, Argyle, Smithbrook and Mitchelton – as well as Fine Wine Partners, a distribution business focused on top end products.

Kirin owned about 46 per cent of Lion before the takeover offer. Public statements to date say that the Australian crew running Lion Nathan will remain in place, becoming part of a bigger regional team.

This could be good news for some of our leading beer and wine brands. But given the scale of the Kirin operation and the peculiarity and capital-intensive nature of the wine business, I wonder if they’ll continue as a producer?

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009