Kirin buys control of Brazil’s Schincariol for $2.6 bln

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* Kirin pays 198.8 bln yen to get control of Schincariol
* Kirin buys Aleadri-Schinni, with 50.45 pct Schincariol stake
* Brazil No.2 beer maker could boost Kirin’s overseas strategy (Adds details, background)

TOKYO, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co will spend 198.8 billion yen ($2.6 billion) to take a controlling stake in major Brazilian beer and soft drinks maker Schincariol to expand its market share in the fast-growing South American economy.

Kirin said on Tuesday it had bought all outstanding shares of Aleadri-Schinni Participacoes e Representacoes S.A., which holds a 50.45 percent stake in Schincariol, Brazil’s No.2 beer and No.3 soft drinks maker.

The purchase of the maker of Nova Schin and Devassa beer brands was funded via cash on hand and loans and will give Kirin access to Schincariol’s nationwide distribution network and 13 production facilities.

The move is part of Kirin’s strategy, pursued over the past several years, to diversify its operations and grow outside its saturated home market, where it vies for the top spot in beer sales with Asahi Breweries .

Japan’s beer market shrank more than 15 percent in terms of shipment volumes during the last decade as the population aged, consumer spending sagged and drinkers opted for cheaper alcoholic beverages, leading firms to look abroad for profit growth drivers.

In January, Kirin announced a deal to establish a joint venture with China’s top beer maker China Resources Enterprise to produce and distribute non-alcoholic beverages in China.

Kirin’s shares were down 0.4 percent at 1,146 yen in early trade, compared with a 1.3 percent drop in the benchmark Nikkei share average . ($1 = 76.615 Japanese Yen)