Kirin could ask Japan for help in dispute with Burmese military entity

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The top executive of Kirin Holdings Co. said on Tuesday that the company may seek help from the Japanese government to resolve a dispute over ending its business partnership with an entity linked to the Burmese military.

Kirin Holdings chairman and CEO Yoshinori Isozaki said in an interview with Kyodo News that his company may need such support, according to the ruling by a Yangon district court after his partner Myanma Economic Holdings Public Co. unilaterally filed a petition last month to liquidate a joint. company called Myanmar Brewery Ltd.

Kirin Holdings Chairman and CEO Yoshinori Isozaki speaks in an interview with Kyodo News in Tokyo on December 21, 2021. (Kyodo)

Isozaki said he hopes the dispute over the company, Myanmar’s largest brewing company owned 51 percent by Kirin and 49 percent by the Burmese entity, can be resolved by the end of June.

“I think the government has not strongly urged us to invest just to feign ignorance when things go wrong,” said the 68-year-old, referring to a 2014 investment treaty between Japan and Myanmar.

The Tokyo-based company entered the Myanmar market in 2015 following the deal that protects investors from being deprived of their investment assets and as the Southeast Asian country moved towards the democratization.

Kirin has two joint ventures – Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery Ltd. – with Myanma Economic Holdings, but decided in February to end its partnership with the local partner after the Burmese army seized power in a coup. Since then, the Japanese company has sought to negotiate but without success.

In response to the lawsuit brought by Myanma Economic Holdings, a Kirin affiliate filed for commercial arbitration with the Singapore International Arbitration Center earlier this month.

Kirin is looking for a new local partner unrelated to the Burmese army. But Isozaki said Kirin would withdraw from the Myanmar market at the request of the Southeast Asian country “if a resolution has been taken in a legal and logical manner following proper discussion.”


Associated coverage:

Brewer Kirin calls for arbitration to end deal with Burmese military entity

FEATURE ARTICLE: Japanese companies worry about trade impact as unrest in Myanmar escalates


The chief executive said the military coup was “unexpected” and “the world is watching” how Kirin handles the problem.

The partner has yet to sufficiently respond to Kirin’s request for talks, Isozaki said, adding that he hopes his company and the country’s military government, which is seeking foreign investors, will reach a fair resolution of the dispute.


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