Japan brewer Kirin to exit Myanmar, seek sale of two units

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kirin Chief Executive Yoshinori Isozaki

TOKYO (Reuters) — Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holdings will withdraw from its business in Myanmar and terminate its joint venture with a military-linked partner, it said on Monday.

Kirin has been in a dispute with local partner Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (MEHPCL) on how to dissolve their brewery venture following a military coup against the democratically elected government last year.

Kirin executives previously said they wanted to remain in the Myanmar market somehow. But after a year of negotiations, the two sides agreed this month on terminating the venture and Kirin’s exit from the country.

“We will resolve this issue by the end of June, no matter what it takes,” Kirin Chief Executive Yoshinori Isozaki told reporters.

The withdrawal will result in an impairment loss of 46.6 billion yen ($404.37 million) in the year ended in December, Kirin said.

The company will now seek to sell its stakes in two business units in the country, Myanmar Brewery Ltd and Mandalay Brewery Ltd, a spokesperson said

Kirin said in its withdrawal it “will place importance on the livelihood and safety of local employees,” who number about 1,450 between the two units.

Justice For Myanmar, an activist group that opposes the military junta, welcomed Kirin’s exit.

“Millions have joined the boycott of Myanmar Beer, and this shows that collective action can disrupt the military cartel,” the group said in a statement.

Kirin results show Myanmar Brewery sales declined 39% in 2021 from the year prior.

Separately, Kirin said it would buy back up to 3.6% of its shares worth 50 billion yen ($433.31 million).