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Kirin offers to buy rest of Lion Nathan

KIRIN Holdings Co, Japan's biggest drinks maker, has offered to pay US$2.5 billion for the 54 percent of Australian brewer Lion Nathan Ltd it doesn?t already own, stepping up efforts to boost overseas earnings as domestic sales flag.

Under the deal, Tokyo-based Kirin will buy the shares at AU$12.22 (US$8.76) each, made up of AU$11.50 in cash and another 72 Australian cents in dividends, Sydney-based Lion Nathan said in a statement yesterday.

The offer values Lion Nathan, the brewer of Tooheys and Hahn beers, at AU$6.5 billion, and is a 49-percent premium to Lion?s average share price over the past three months.

?We believe this is a very attractive outcome for Lion Nathan?s non-Kirin shareholders,? Lion Nathan chairman Geoff Ricketts said in the statement. ?It is a compelling offer at a significant premium to Lion Nathan?s share price.?

The move represents another step in Kirin?s ambitions to expand and diversify its global operations. Growth in Japan?s food and beverage sector has been sluggish, with a shrinking population eroding the customer base. The company hopes to raise its overseas sales ratio to 30 percent by 2015.

In February, Lion Nathan scrapped a AU$7.6-billion Kirin-backed bid to take over the Australian unit of The Coca-Cola Company after Coca-Cola rejected the price.

Kirin also announced plans in February to buy 43 percent of the brewery unit of Philippine firm San Miguel Corp.


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