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Kirin to sell Lion Dairy & Drinks following strategic review

Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holdings Co. Ltd. said Oct. 10 that it will start the sale process for its Lion Dairy & Drinks business following a strategic review of the unit.

Kirin placed the dairy products and beverages unit under review last month after it reported lower revenue and profit in the group's half-year results.

Kirin and its wholly owned subsidiary Lion Pty. Ltd., which manages the company's beverage business in the Oceania region, concluded that separating Lion Dairy & Drinks is the best option for the group. The unit needs further investment and capital allocation to transform its efficiency improvement, according to the release.

The Australian Financial Review reported the same day that Lion Dairy & Drinks' potential buyers include Coca-Cola Co. The U.S. soft drinks giant and its independent Australian bottler Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. recently acquired a large stake in Australian beverage company Made Group, shortly after acquiring Australian kombucha maker Organic & Raw Trading Co.

Melbourne-based Lion Dairy & Drinks, formerly National Foods Ltd., has a share capital of approximately A$552 million and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kirin-owned Lion.

The unit's portfolio includes white milk products under the Dairy Farmers, Pura, Masters and The Complete Dairy brands; iced coffee products under the Dare, Farmers Union Iced Coffee, Masters and Feel Good brands; flavored milk products under the Big M, Masters, Moove, Dairy Farmers Classic and Pura Classic brands; and plant-based milk products under the Vitasoy brand.

Kirin said the sale is not expected to have an impact on Lion's alcohol business in Australia and New Zealand.