Japanese Brewer Kirin to Sell Stake in Venture with Myanmar Military

Japan’s Kirin cuts ties with Myanmar military-owned firm
Japan’s Kirin cuts ties with Myanmar military-owned firm.

Japanese beverage manufacturer Kirin Holdings stated on Thursday that it will sell its full investment in Myanmar Brewery (MBL).

Nikkei reports that Kirin will sell to Myanma Economic Holdings (MEHL), a joint venture owned by the military, for JPY 22.4 billion yen (USD 164 million).

“Considering the local employees and business partners who have worked so hard to develop our Myanmar business, it is extremely regrettable that we have to withdraw from the business,” said Keisuke Nishimura, the company’s senior executive vice president, at an online news conference Thursday.

In February, Kirin declared that it would withdraw from Myanmar and sell its holdings by the end of June.

Since then, it has attempted to sell its shares to an outside bidder, including US and European firms, but has been unable to do so in the face of mounting criticism of the Myanmar military’s repression.

Kirin owns 51 percent of MBL, while MEHL retains 49 percent. The Japanese firm devised a plan to sell shares to MBL in order to avoid any criticism if it sold to MEHL.

MBL holds an eighty percent share of the Myanmar beer market. Prior to the coup, the company contributed around 10% of Kirin’s business earnings in 2020.

Following the 2021 coup, foreign corporations have withdrawn from Myanmar in large numbers.

In March, the Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor completed the sale of its business to the Lebanese investment group M1 Group, which was announced in July of the previous year.

Major energy companies, including Total Energies of France, Chevron of the United States, and Eneos Holdings, the largest oil refiner in Japan, have announced exits.

Germany’s Metro stopped retailing fresh food and other products in 2021.