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Kirin buys $560m stake in Myanmar Brewery

Japan’s Kirin Holdings has taken control of Myanmar Brewery (MBL), Burma’s largest brewery, in a deal worth US$560 million.

Kirin Holdings, Japan’s second largest brewer, has agreed to buy Fraser and Neave’s 55% stake in the company, the latest big brewer to hone in on the country’s growing beer market.

Earlier this year, Dutch brewer Heineken opened a new brewery in Burma after a 20-year absence from the country, just two months after Carlsberg opened a $75m brewery there.

Heineken and other major brewers suspended their activities in Burma (also known as Myanmar) two decades ago when the country was hit by international sanctions due to the widely condemned actions of the country’s former military rulers.

Recently democratised, international businesses are now returning to the country, whose beer market is flourishing.

With 53 million people, Burma has one of the largest populations in the region and 80% of adults drink beer. Beer sales in the country rose 14% to $265m between 2009 and 2013 and are forecast to hit $675m by 2018, according to Euromonitor.

In a statement announcing its acquisition, Kirin described Myanmar as an “exciting market with considerable prospects”.

“High growth and increasing consumer consumption have been forecasted following the country’s recent democratisation, ongoing reforms and the progressive lifting of previous economic sanctions”, it read. “Kirin aims for further growth by leveraging its own expertise in technology, product development and research and marketing, and MBL’s business foundation.”

MBL is Myanmar’s top beer company, holding an 80% share in the local beer market, producing brands including Andaman Gold and Myanmar Double Strong.

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