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Heineken denies Coca-Cola Brazil lawsuit challenges 2017 Kirin purchase

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Heineken denies Coca-Cola Brazil lawsuit challenges 2017 Kirin purchase

Heineken NV has refuted a report by Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico that said a lawsuit filed by Coca-Cola Brasil seeks to annul the Dutch brewer's acquisition of Kirin Holdings Company Ltd.'s Brazilian unit in 2017, Reuters reported Jan. 26, citing a company statement.

Valor Economico reported Jan. 24 that the Brazilian arm of Coca-Cola Co. and its local bottlers filed a motion to void Heineken's 2017 acquisition of Brasil Kirin. The newspaper, citing court documents, said Heineken is accused of crafting a sale contract for Brasil Kirin with the aim of breaking its distribution deal with Coca-Cola.

Heineken had wanted to sell new and existing brands under its portfolio through its own distribution system, but an arbitration tribunal in 2019 ruled that the company must keep distributing its Kaiser beer brand through Coca-Cola FEMSA SAV de CV's network in Brazil until March 2022.

According to Reuters, Heineken said it believed the lawsuit was not intended to challenge its Brasil Kirin acquisition but to instead seek compensation for its alleged unwillingness to sell the beer brands that came with the Brasil Kirin takeover via Coca-Cola's distribution network.

The newswire added that Coca-Cola Brasil and the Brazilian bottlers also challenged other corporate actions by Heineken in the lawsuit, but Heineken said the actions did not affect the validity of its 2017 purchase of Brasil Kirin.

The brewer, which reportedly found out about the lawsuit through public sources, also said the lawsuit did not alter its Brazilian operations.

Coca-Cola Brasil and Heineken did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's requests for comment.