Kirin Follows Heineken With $2.2 Billion Offer; Shares Tumble

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Kirin Holdings Co. (2503), Japan’s largest drinks maker, may pay S$2.7 billion ($2.2 billion) to expand in Southeast Asia, following brewers Anheuser-Busch InBev NV (ABI) and Heineken NV (HEIA) as they buy into emerging-market growth.

Kirin is seeking to acquire Fraser & Neave Ltd.’s food and beverages unit as part of a proposed takeover of the Singapore- based company by a group led by Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. (OUE) The OUE group offered S$13.1 billion for F&N yesterday, topping a bid from Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, and said Kirin will buy the food and beverage unit.

Shares of Kirin tumbled the most in a year today on concern whether the investment will pay off. The Tokyo-based company, which generates a higher percentage of sales from overseas than any other Japanese drinks maker with revenue exceeding $1 billion, is seeking further expansion abroad as demand weakens at home and growth at its Australian unit stutters.

“Investors are now worried,” Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, said by telephone today. “They’re concerned whether it will turn out to be expensive shopping without rewards.”

Kirin, which owns a 14.8 percent stake in F&N, will tender its shares to OUE and won’t accept any competing proposal, OUE said. Kirin is “aware of the announcement,” Kan Yamamoto, a spokesman, said by telephone. He declined to comment further.

Kirin fell 2.6 percent to 965 yen as of 10:28 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The stock earlier dropped 4.7 percent, headed for the largest decline since November last year. The drinks maker’s shares have lost 33 percent in the past three years, compared with a 13 percent decline for the broader Topix index.

Sales Projection
The company cut its 2015 sales forecast in October, citing weakening demand in Japan as a reason. Industrywide beer sales in Japan fell 3.7 percent to 442 million cases last year, the lowest level since records began in 1992.

Heineken got shareholder approval in September to buy F&N’s stake in its brewing joint venture, Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd. (APB), giving it full control over sales and distribution of its brands and F&N’s Tiger beer brand in Southeast Asia. Heineken had been spurred to increase its original offer for APB after Charoen purchased shares in F&N and APB.

Kirin had been considering a bid for the F&N food and drink unit in July, three people with knowledge of the situation said at the time, after Heineken’s initial bid for APB.

The Japanese company also has a 48 percent stake in the Philippines’ San Miguel Brewery Inc. In November last year, Kirin agreed to buy out shareholders in Brazil’s Schincariol Participacoes e Representacoes to diversify its beer sales footprint. The deal at the time valued the brewer at about $3.6 billion, excluding debt.

Leuven, Belgium-based AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, agreed to buy control of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo SAB for $20.2 billion this year.

F&N has been in the food and beverage business since 1883, producing soft drinks, milk drinks, ice cream and isotonic drinks under F&N Foods Pte. and Malaysia’s Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd. (FNH), according to its website.