By Ian Neubauer

In a twist befitting of a Shakespearean tragedy, Lion Nathan has been outed as a possible takeover target by its majority shareholder, Kirin Holdings of Japan, following the duo’s failed attempt to ‘merge’ with bottler Coca-Cola Amatil.

An analyst for Morgan Stanley said it now made sense for Kirin, which already owns 46 per cent of Lion Nathan, to seize a larger share of the Australian brewer or swallow it completely, The Australian reported.

“We would argue that in combination with a strong yen, other acquisitions of Australian business will help Kirin’s confidence that it could run Lion successfully,” the analyst was reported as saying.

Cashed-up by the rising value of the yen and the low Australian dollar and facing limited growth opportunities as a recession commences in its domestic market, Japanese investors have been in a feeding frenzy over Australian F&B manufactures in recent months.

Notable acquisitions include Asahi Breweries’ $1.9 billion January takeover of Schweppes and Suntory’s  $1.08 billion takeover of Frucor, manufacturer of V, Australia’s leading energy drink, in October last year.

Lion Nathan’s corporate affairs spokesperson was not available for comment on the likelihood of a takeover today (Feb 13).

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