Bottle of Bira 91 lying in the sand (Photo: Jaydeep Kaila, Unsplash)
14 January 2021

Kirin buys minority stake in Indian craft brewer Bira 91

India | The Japanese brewer plans to acquire a stake of slightly under 10 percent in the local craft brewer Bira for about USD 30 million, The Financial Times (FT) reported on 4 January 2021. The deal will be Kirin’s first bet on premium beer in India.

Kirin’s recent focus on craft breweries reflects the group’s effort to shift its portfolio towards high-end products. In 2019, its Australian subsidiary, Lion, acquired New Belgium Brewing, the fourth-ranked craft brewer in the US. In 2016, Kirin had bought a 25 percent stake in Brooklyn Brewery. It also acquired Fourpure Brewing and Magic Rock Brewing, two UK craft brewers, in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

India is seen as a largely untapped beer market with per capita consumption of beer standing at 2 litres only.

Investors wanted

Bira had been in talks with international brewers – including Kirin – and other investors to sell a stake of up to 20 percent in the company, Reuters reported in August. The investment would allow Bira, which has posted losses in recent years and has been hit by the covid-19 pandemic, to break even in the 2022 fiscal year which starts in April 2021.

New Delhi-based Bira was founded in 2015 and is among the largest and most visible leaders of craft beer in India, where microbreweries have sprung up in and around large cities as a growing middle class turns to premium beverages.

Bira was valued at USD 210 million in 2018. Prior to the deal, the private equity firm Sequoia Capital held a roughly 45 percent stake in the company, while CEO Ankur Jain and his family owned around 30 percent.

Beer sales in India increased 8 percent in 2019, according to Euromonitor, but declined by an estimated 16 percent in the off-premise in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.


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