Heineken Announces Drive into India, Asia

Will link up with major Indian brand Kingfisher

Dutch beer group Heineken on Dec. 7 announced it was linking up with major Indian brand Kingfisher in a bid to increase its presence in one of the world's fastest growing beer markets.

Heineken said it had agreed to form a shareholders' partnership with Vijay Mallya and his United Breweries Ltd (UBL), the Kingfisher maker, to distribute Heineken beer "in one of the world's fastest growing and most exciting beer markets."

The deal was accompanied by an announcement that Heineken was to buy Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd (APB), a successful joint venture with Fraser and Neave Ltd.

"This will create a more profitable business and a stronger platform for growth in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands," the company said. "As a result of the transactions, an exceptional book gain of 145 million euros (US$216 million) before tax will be realized in 2010. Consolidated net debt is expected to be reduced by approximately 175 million euros."

Heineken chairman and chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said: "In the world of beer, there is no bigger or more exciting growth opportunity than India. "We have long regarded a strong Indian presence as important in order to increase our exposure to and growth from developing markets. We are therefore extremely proud to announce our partnership with UBL, the strong market leader."

He also said that at the same time "the integration of our Indonesian and New Caledonian businesses with our joint venture Asia Pacific Breweries, considerably strengthens our platform for growth and our leadership position in South East Asia and the Pacific."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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