Kirin to merge Australian operations

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 6th August 2009

Kirin’s Australian operations will soon be renamed Lion Nathan National Foods Pty Ltd, provided shareholders of brewer Lion Nathan accept their takeover proposal.

The Japanese brewer’s plans have been outlined today in the Scheme Booklet released by Lion Nathan. It shows that their large food and beverage operation in Australia – National Foods – will be united with Lion Nathan, while the management team will largely be drawn from Lion. The only part of their Australian operation that will remain separate is barley and malt manufacturer Kirin Australia Pty Ltd.

“Following the implementation of the Scheme, it is intended that the existing Lion Nathan senior management team will become the senior management team for Kirin’s Australasian operations, with Robert Murray, the current Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Lion Nathan, as the Chief Executive Officer of the Australasian operations,” they advised. “It is intended that the Managing Director of the NF Group will be a member of the senior management team and report to the Chief Executive Officer.”

The Japanese firm believes there will be significant synergies reaped from the merger, but said it was premature to discuss any specific changes.

“Subject to the outcome of the general review…, it is expected that over time certain corporate functions will be centralised across the Australasian businesses. Kirin expects to achieve synergy benefits in these general areas over time. Kirin does not believe it has a reasonable basis to speculate as to what the value of these synergies is likely to be.”

The Kirin offer has now received approval from an independent expert who, like the Board, said the offer represented a fair and reasonable arrangement. It still requires the acceptance of shareholders and the Court. Pending such approvals, the scheme deal is likely to be implemented on October 21.

If the Lion deal goes ahead it will be the third major deal made by Kirin in the Australian food and beverages space in consecutive years, following acquisitions of National Foods in 2007 and Dairy Farmers in 2008 (which is now under the National Foods banner). As such, they will be one of the largest manufacturers in the country.

“The combination of Kirin’s businesses in this region would create a compelling Australasian beverage and dairy division,” Lion Nathan Chairman Geoff Ricketts noted today. “Should shareholders approve the transaction, there are very exciting times ahead for the people of both Lion Nathan and National Foods.”