AP News reports that Japanese beverage giant — and New Belgium Brewing Co. owner — Kirin Holdings plans to transfer its stake in Myanmar Brewery to the joint venture in a share buyback transaction. The change will leave its local partner, Myanma Economic Holdings Plc. (MEHL), with full control of the company.
Kirin says the share buyback agreement takes into account its employees and other stakeholders and is the fastest way to exit the venture. Human rights groups, including Justice For Myanmar, criticized the move. (Xpress reported on similar pushback in December 2019 when New Belgium’s sale to Kirin subsidiary Lion Little World Beverages was announced.)
Kirin says in an emailed statement that it had “no intention” to give 100% control of Myanmar Brewery to MEHL. But the deal will leave MEHL as the only shareholder “until it finds its next joint venture partner.”
Kirin announced shortly after a military takeover in February 2021 that it planned to pull out of the brewery venture, but reported various issues in reaching an agreement with the local partner on how to withdraw. Kirin adds that the latest plan is the best of three options that also included liquidating the brewery or selling its stake to another company.