Kirin Holdings Company, Limited
Native name
Kirin Hōrudingusu kabushiki gaisha
FormerlyJapan Brewery Company, Limited
Company typePublic KK
PredecessorSpring Valley Brewery Company
Founded1888; 136 years ago (1888)
FounderWilliam Copeland
Thomas Blake Glover
Key people
Hideki Horiguchi (President and CEO)
ServicesStrategic management and oversight of the domestic beverage business.
Number of employees
30,464 (consolidated) Edit this at Wikidata
A can of Kirin Ichiban

The Kirin Holdings Company, Limited. (キリンホールディングス株式会社) is a Japanese beer and beverage holding company. It is known for brands such as Kirin Beer, Kirin Lemon, Mets, and Gogo no Kōcha.

The predecessor of the company, the Japan Brewery Company, was founded in Yokohama in 1885 by William Henry Talbot and Edgar Abbott. In 1888, they launched Kirin Beer. In 1907, the business of JBC[further explanation needed] was inherited[by whom?], and Kirin Brewery Company was established. In 2007, it became Kirin Holdings Company, a holding company, with Kirin Beer Company, Kirin Beverage Company, and Mercian Corporation as its main subsidiaries.

Etymology of name

In Japanese, "Kirin" can refer to giraffes, or to Qilin (麒麟), the mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creatures in East Asian culture. Kirin Brewery is named after the latter.


The Japan Brewery Company, Limited, the forerunner of Kirin Brewery, was established in 1885, taking over the assets of the Spring Valley Brewery, first founded in Yokohama in 1869 by Norwegian-American brewer, William Copeland. In a deal brokered by Thomas Blake Glover, Japan Brewery was incorporated in Hong Kong in the name of W.H. Talbot and E.H. Abbott with financial backing provided by a group of Japanese investors including Iwasaki Yanosuke, then-president of Mitsubishi.[1][2]

Japan Brewery first began marketing Kirin Beer in 1888. The Kirin Brewery Company was established as a separate legal entity in February 1907, purchasing the assets of the Japan Brewery and expanding the business in an era of growing consumer demand. Kirin Brewery built on the traditions of Japan Brewery retaining the use of malted grains and hops imported from Germany and employing German brewers to oversee production. An exclusive partnership with Meidi-ya proved highly successful in the marketing of Kirin's beers both in Japan and overseas.[3]

Corporate overview

Kirin Brewery sells two of the most popular beers in Japan: Kirin Lager, one of the country's oldest beer brands, brewed since 1888; and Ichiban Shibori. Within the happoshu (low-malt) category, Kirin Tanrei is the top seller. Kirin handles domestic distribution for several foreign brands, including Budweiser and Heineken.

Kirin's brewery operations also extend overseas, through strategic alliances, subsidiaries, and affiliates, to China, Taiwan, Australia, the Philippines, Europe, New Zealand and the United States. The company holds a 100%[4] stake in Lion Nathan Limited, a consolidated subsidiary that is based in Australia but has particularly important operations in China. Kirin has a 48%[5] stake in San Miguel Brewery, the dominant brewer in the Philippines. Kirin now applies its fermentation technology to areas such as plant genetics, pharmaceuticals, and bioengineering. Although brewing and related businesses remain the core of Kirin's activities, the company is also involved in several other sectors: hard liquor, wine, soft drinks, and food products.

In December 2006, the Kirin Brewery Company of Japan purchased a 25% stake in Hangzhou Qiandaohu Beer Co., Ltd. for US$38 million.[6]

On 14 July 2009, Kirin announced that it was in negotiations with Suntory on a merger.[7] On 8 February 2010, it was announced that negotiations between the two had been terminated.[8]

In early 2010 Kirin's Agribio business was sold to Dutch H2 Equity Partners; now it's part of Dümmen Orange.[9]

In 2010, 23.4 percent of Kirin's sales were made overseas, the highest overseas revenue among all Japanese breweries.[10]

In October 2011, the court decided that Kirin could buy a majority stake in family-run Brazilian beer Schincariol. Kirin bought a 50.45 percent stake in 2011, valued at $2.6 billion.[11] In November 2011, Kirin Holdings Company agreed to buy out the remaining shareholders in Brazilian beermaker Schincariol Participacoes e Representacoes, completing its biggest acquisition as it sees growth in emerging markets ($1.35 billion was paid for the 49.54 percent stake, giving it control of all outstanding shares).[12] In November 2012, Kirin changed Schincariol's name to Brasil Kirin.[13]

In 2013 Kirin joined leading alcohol producers as part of a producers' commitments to reducing harmful drinking.[14]

In February 2013, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi bought the 15% stake of Singapore's Fraser & Neave (F&N), a property-to-drinks conglomerate, from Kirin for US$1.6 billion.[15]

In July 2014, Kirin announced its intention to revive the Spring Valley Brewery brand as a wholly owned subsidiary company to focus on producing and retailing microbrewery style beers produced using traditional ingredients and brewing methods.[16]

On January 20, 2017, Heineken NV and Kirin Holdings confirmed they were in negotiations for Heineken to acquire Brasil Kirin.[17]

On February 5, 2018, Kirin Holdings announced the acquisition of 95% outstanding shares in Kyowa Hakko Bio Co. Ltd, from Kyowa Hakko Kirin to expand to wellness and bio-chemical products.[18]

On August 6, 2019, Kirin Holdings announced it would take a 33% stake in cosmetics and dietary supplements company Fancl Corp for US$1.21 billion.[19]

On June 30, 2022, Kirin Holdings announced to sell its 51% stake in Myanmar Brewery Limited, its Myanmar joint venture to its military-linked local partner.[20]

Holdings in Japan

Alcoholic beverage business

Soft drink business




Real estate

Other core businesses

Nutrient food




Holdings outside Japan

Alcohol business

Soft drink business

Pharmaceutical business

Agribio business

Other business

See also


  1. ^ "The History of Kirin". Kirin Holdings Corporate History. Kirin Holdings. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  2. ^ Alexander, Jeffrey W. (2013). Brewed in Japan: The Evolution of the Japanese Beer Industry. Vancouver, BC, Canada: UBC Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7748-2504-7.
  3. ^ "The History of Kirin". Kirin Holdings Corporate History. Kirin Holdings. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  4. ^ News Kirin Holdings. 2009
  5. ^ Kirin Holdings Completes Acquisition of San Miguel Brewery Shares Kirin Holdings. 22 May 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  6. ^ " News article: Japan & China: Kirin Brewery in Hangzhou Qiandaohu Brewery Deal".
  7. ^ キリン:サントリーと経営統合へ交渉 - 毎日jp(毎日新聞) Archived 2012-07-10 at Mainichi Shimbun (Retrieved 13 July 2009)
  8. ^ Termination of Merger Negotiation with Kirin Archived 2010-03-01 at the Wayback Machine Suntory News Release (Retrieved 8 February 2010)
  9. ^ H2 Acquires Agribio from Kirin, February 19, 2010
  10. ^ "Asahi Plans Southeast Asia Takeovers, Seeking Wider Margins". Bloomberg News. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  11. ^ "Kirin wins Schincariol takeover court case". BBC. 12 October 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  12. ^ "Kirin Buys Out Brazil's Schincariol, Completing Record Deal". Business Week. 7 November 2011. Archived from the original on 8 November 2011.
  13. ^ "Schincariol Is Now Brasil Kirin". 13 November 2012. Archived from the original on 19 February 2013.
  14. ^ "Home | Producers' Commitments". Producers' Commitments. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Thai tycoons go for it in multi-billion deals". Investvine. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  16. ^ Kim, Chang-Ran (16 July 2014). "Japan's Kirin pushes into craft beer to halt market share slide". Reuters. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  17. ^ van Tartwijk, Maarten (20 January 2017). "Heineken in Talks to Buy Kirin's Brazil Assets". The Wall Street Journal. New York. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Kirin Pushes Expansion of Wellness Business in $1.2 Billion Deal". Bloomberg. 5 February 2018.
  19. ^ "Kirin to Become Fancl's Top Shareholder". 6 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Japan's Kirin exits Myanmar business with military-linked partner". Reuters. 30 June 2022. Retrieved 30 June 2022.
  21. ^ "F&N shares hit record high as tussle continues". Channel News Asia. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  22. ^ "Let's set the record straight : Blog : Brooklyn Brewery". The Brooklyn Brewery. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  23. ^ a b "Statement on the situation in Myanmar". Kirin Holdings. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Kirin Holdings Reference 2009.5.22 : Kirin Holdings Completes Acquisition of San Miguel Brewery Shares".
  25. ^ Denis Paiste (6 April 2007). "Moxie, same taste, new owner". New Hampshire Union Leader. Union Leader Corporation. p. B3. Retrieved 25 November 2007.