By Ian Neubauer

Lion Nathan shares have been placed in a trading halt this morning after its majority shareholder, Japan’s Kirin Holdings, made a bid to acquire the Australian brewer in its entirety.

Kirin, which currently owns just over 46 per cent of Lion stock, made the offer for an undisclosed sum after the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) closed for trading last night (Apr 22).

Lion said it requested the trading halt to permit confidential discussions with Kirin and said it intends to establish a committee to clarify and negotiate the details of the proposal for its minority shareholders.

The proposal represents a convoluted but expected development for Lion, which last year made a failed attempt to acquire the larger Coca-Cola Amatil on Kirin’s behalf.

"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," a Morgan Stanley analyst said in February this year.

The move also represents a solidifying of Kirin’s presence in the Australian food and beverage sector. Last August it acquired Dairy Farmers for $675 million and formed a venture with the Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory.

Lion Nathan shares were trading at $8.31 at midday today compared to $7.92 seven days ago.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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