Japan’s Kirin keen to stay in Myanmar despite scrapping JV ties

Photo: Reuters

Japanese drinks giant Kirin Holdings said it wanted to keep selling beer in Myanmar even after the recent coup prompted it to scrap its alliance with a joint venture partner linked to the Myanmar military.

Kirin this month announced it was cutting ties with its local partner Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company (MEHL).

The alliance had faced criticism even before the latest coup, with United Nations investigators warning in 2019 that global firms doing business with MEHL risked aiding the army, accused of killing Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar has denied genocide.

Kirin‘s 2015 investment in Myanmar was part of a flood of investment into the Southeast Asian nation as sanctions were lifted. Later that year, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won the first free election after nearly half a century of junta rule.

“We are not necessarily exiting Myanmar. We would like to continue contributing to Myanmar through our beer business,” Kirin CEO Yoshinori Isozaki told reporters in a briefing after announcing the company’s latest financial results.

“We would like to stay in Myanmar. This would be for consumers, for employees, and for the people.”

It is unclear whether and how Kirin can continue operating in Myanmar without MEHL.

Isozaki said discussions were under way, and that he hoped for a speedy resolution.

The Myanmar business accounted for less than 5% of Kirin‘s global beer sales, but was one of its few growth markets. The company has been expanding into healthcare and other new areas amid a decline in domestic beer consumption.

On Monday, it forecast overall sales to recover 1.6% to 1.88 trillion yen ($17.86 billion) in 2021 after declining 4.7% to 1.85 trillion yen last year due to the pandemic. ($1 = 105.2500 yen) (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; editing by Tom Hogue and Jason Neely)

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.