UPDATE 1-Kirin to keep at M&A after botched Suntory deal

* Executive Vice Pres Miyake to become president March 26

* Miyake says to actively seek M&A opportunities

* Forecasts 3.6 pct increase in operating profit for 2010
(Adds details and background)

By Taiga Uranaka

TOKYO, Feb 10 (BestGrowthStock) – The new president of Kirin
Holdings (2503.T: ) said he would actively pursue acquisitions and
alliances to drive earnings growth after talks with rival brewer
Suntory [SUNTH.UL] on a merger fell apart.

Senji Miyake, an executive vice president and former head of
its beer division, was named on Wednesday to replace Kazuyasu
Kato as the group’s new president on March 26.

Miyake will be tasked with setting a new growth strategy for
the maker of “Ichibanshibori” beer after negotiations with
Suntory broke down this week over a disagreement on the merger
ratio and other issues. [ID:nTOE61702U]

A merger would have created a powerhouse in the global food
and beverage market with more than $40 billion in annual
revenues, on par with Pepsico (PEP.N: ) and Kraft (KFT.N: ).

“We will actively pursue M&A and alliances as a growth
strategy,” Miyake told a news conference. “We will take action
when we find a good partner or a project.”

Under Kato, Kirin has made a string of acquisitions
overseas, including a combined $1.5 billion for Australia’s
National Foods and Dairy Farmers and another $2.8 billion to
take full ownership of brewer Lion Nathan.

Kato said the decision to step down was not related to the
failed merger talks with Suntory, but acknowledged it was a
missed opportunity.

“We saw a big business chance in being together,” Kato said.
“Suntory’s deal was one of our growth strategies. We are
studying various other options to achieve our aim of being a
leading company in Asia and Oceania.”

Kirin also announced results for 2009 and forecasts for 2010
on Wednesday.

The brewer forecast operating profit to rise 3.6 percent to
133 billion yen ($1.5 billion) this year, lifted by lower raw
material costs and reduction in marketing expenses, while
expecting weak domestic beer demand.

Stock Investing

(Editing by Chris Gallagher)

UPDATE 1-Kirin to keep at M&A after botched Suntory deal