Kirin calls off Suntory takeover

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The Independent Online

Kirin, the Japanese beer giant, has ended $10bn (£6.4bn) takeover talks with Suntory because its rival wanted management control of the combined company. The failure to reach an agreement may now accelerate the overseas expansion of Kirin, which is the country's largest brewer.

A successful deal would have created one of the world's biggest food and drink groups.

In a statement, Kirin said: "Kirin had been negotiating on the premise that the new entity would be managed as a listed company in order to ensure appropriate management independence and transparency. However, it became apparent that Suntory held a different view on this matter."

Kirin said it had decided that even if negotiations had continued, they were "unlikely to result in the establishment of a company that would fulfill Kirin's aim of developing as a leading global company".

In 2009, Kirin and Suntory delivered combined sales of about $42.5bn. About 90 per cent of Suntory, which makes The Premium Malt's beer and Boss canned coffee, is owned by its founding family, who were likely to become the combined company's largest shareholder with a stake of a 33 per cent. Suntory cited the different understanding of both companies about the "integration ratio" for the breakdown in the talks. Kirin has announced it would keep its foot on the acquisition accelerator, as it seeks to overcome anaemic domestic sales.

Kirin's president, Kazuyasu Kato, reportedly said: "Kirin will keep looking for mergers as part of its growth strategy."

Edwin Merner, the president of Atlantis Investment in Tokyo, reportedly said: "The Japanese market at best will grow only slowly, which means that Kirin must expand overseas."

Kirin's most famous beer is Ichiban Shibori, but it also makes beverages including the Afternoon Tea bottled drinks.

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