Sep.28 - Heineken ends a two-month struggle to acquire full control of Tiger Beer producer Asia Pacific Breweries. Joel Flynn reports.
James Bond may be a new commercial face for Heineken. But some at the Dutch brewer must've wished he could've helped expedite their own negotiations over the last two months. That's how long it's taken Heineken to finalise the purchase of the rest of Tiger Beer manufacturer Asia Pacific Breweries. Heineken already had a controlling stake in APB, as well as a partnership with one of its major shareholders going back over 80 years. But CEO Jean Francois van Boxmeer said on Friday this deal was in many ways the final piece of the jigsaw. SOUNDBITE: Heineken CEO, Jean Francois van Boxmeer, saying (English): "It is certainly completing the footprint that we have as a worldwide premium beer brewer in the world, and Asia was a little bit the missing link in our puzzle and APB completion would, kind of, complete our footprint in Asia, and Asia, one has to realise, is the most, the fastest growing region for beer in the world." It wasn't until a Thai billionaire expressed interest that Heineken decided to finalise the purchase of the rest of the shares. Justin Urquhart-Stewart from Seven Investment Management says though that the Dutch brewer should have made a move before all this. SOUNDBITE: Seven Investment Management Director, Justin Urquhart-Stewart, saying (English): "Heineken actually are now picking up an asset at a far greater price then they should have done. Those assets, those beer assets, some very close to my heart and to my stomach, are in fact very good assets indeed, and frankly they should have been able to buy them and use them to their benefit. What they need them for is of course to be able to make sure they then have more brands under their direct control that they can market, not just regionally, but internationally as well. Brewers, like many other companies, are increasingly looking to Asia for growth. An expanding middle class and growing populations pining for exciting brands make it a fertile ground for drinks makers in particular. Heineken may have paid a steep price, but with a strong footing in Asia backing their traditional mature markets, the closing of this chapter will bring them some Quantum of Solace. Joel Flynn, Reuters