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Kirin to take over Lion Nathan?

Lion Nathan’s major shareholder Kirin Holdings has made a proposal to acquire the 54% of the trans-Tasman drinks giant it does not already own.

Lion Nathan this morning entered a trading halt on both the Australian Securities Exchange and the New Zealand Stock Exchange, explaining that after the close of trade yesterday it received an “indicative, non-binding, conditional and confidential proposal” for Japanese company Kirin to buy out all other shareholders. Kirin already hold 46.13% of Lion Nathan.

In its statement to the stock exchange, Lion Nathan said it intended to establish an independent board committee to clarify and confirm the details of the proposal on behalf of the company’s minority shareholders. Shares in Lion Nathan, which may remain suspended until as late as Monday under the trading halt, last traded at $8.31.

kirin

Lion Nathan said the trading halt was to allow it and Kirin to engage in confidential discussions over the proposal. Lion Nathan produces beers including Tooheys, XXXX and Hahn, and also has a niche wine and spirits business. In the year to last September, the company, the country’s second largest beer producer, posted a net profit after tax of $278.3 million.

The possible acquisition follows a failed $8 billion-plus attempt over the summer by Lion Nathan to acquire soft drinks company Coca-Cola Amatil in a deal that would have been largely bankrolled by Kirin. For its part, Kirin has gone on a recent buying spree in Australia in the past two years, taking ownership of National Foods and Dairy Farmers.

In a separate statement, Kirin, which in being advised by JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Blake Dawson, said it would “continue to keep its shareholders informed of any material developments”.

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Saturday, October 21, 3:35 pm

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