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Anheuser-Busch and Kirin form alliance for Japanese Budweiser production.

Kirin Brewery Co., Japan's largest brewer, and Anheuser-Busch Co. said they will set up a joint venture to produce and sell the U.S. company's Budweiser beer in Japan starting in September.

Budweiser Japan Co., capitalized at 9 billion yen ($78 million), will be 90 percent owned by Anheuser-Busch and 10 percent by Kirin, the two companies said.

The venture will be based on a 10-year contract and the company will consist of two directors from Kirin and 10 from Anheuser-Busch.

The new company will sell A-B's canned product, imported from the United States, and Kirin will brew beer for bottled Budweiser to be sold in the Japanese market.

Japan's Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said it approved the joint venture because it would take time for Anheuser-Busch to acquire a license for liquor sales in Japan.

The FTC initially did not favor the venture since Kirin already has a 50 percent share of the Japanese market.

Kirin had originally hoped to hold 49 percent of the new company's stocks, but lowered that to 10 percent because the FTC did not want to see one brewery become too powerful. Kirin's market share reached 63.8 percent at its peak in 1976, but has hovered around 50 percent in recent years.

A commission official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the American company needs to have cooperation from Kirin before becoming fully independent.

The new venture means the termination of a long-standing contract between Anheuser-Busch and Suntory, Ltd., another major Japanese brewer. Under that contract, Suntory had imported and produced Budweiser in Japan since 1981.
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Title Annotation:Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.; Kirin Brewery Company Ltd.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Mar 29, 1993
Words:264
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