San Miguel closes Kirin deal

Food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corp. of the Philippines said on 6 March that it had completed its sale of a 15% stake to Japan“s Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., a deal that will give the group fre…

Food and beverage conglomerate San Miguel Corp. of the Philippines said on 6 March that it had completed its sale of a 15% stake to Japan“s Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., a deal that will give the group fresh funds for new purchases. San Miguel also appointed vice chairman Ramon Ang – the righthand man of decision-maker chairman Eduardo Cojuangco – to also serve as its new president and chief operating officer. Its former president Francisco Eizmendi who retired recently, will stay as consultant to the office of the chairman, San Miguel said in a stock exchange announcement. The completion of the sale to Kirin will bring in US$ 540 million for San Miguel, which officials have said will help the Philippine company raise a US$ 1 billion war chest for acquisitions in the food and beverage sector this year. The entry of the first significant foreign investor in San Miguel was formally approved on 27 February at a special shareholders meeting after the company secured the backing of its major shareholder, the Philippine government. A special board meeting also saw the aarrival of two new board members – Naomichi Asano and Shigeki Ota – bringing to seven the number of recent board appointments. The government Cojuangco reached an agreement last month for Manila to back the Kirin deal in exchange for the entry of five of its nominees on the company“s board of directors. Under the new shareholding structure, the government“s interest shrinks to about 38.6%, including 11.8% held by state pension funds and 26.8% sequestered and held on behalf of coconut farmers. The ownership of the shares – sequestered by the government in 1987 on suspicion they were bought with funds illegally collected from coconut farmers by former dictator Ferdinand Marcos – are being contested in the anti-graft court. Cojuangco“s stake dwindles to 19.3% and Kirin will hold 15%. The rest will be held by the public and the San Miguel retirement fund. Before the transaction, the government voted some 44% of San Miguel stock, while Cojuangco voted about 22%.