Beer Giant Kirin has still not been able to exit their joint ventures with Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) also known as Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Co (MEHPC).
On February 5, 2021, following the military coup in Myanmar, beer giant Kirin announced it would terminate their two joint ventures in the country. Kirin currently holds majority stakes in Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery, which are co-owned by Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL). MEHL is a military owned conglomorate and serves as a welfare fund for the military.
Kirin acquired a 55% stake in Myanmar Brewery for $560 million in 2015. Kirin transferred a 4% stake in Myanmar Brewery to MEHL in 2017 when it acquired a 51% stake in Mandalay Brewery for $4.3 million. Kirin’s Myanmar sales account for about 5% of the beer giant’s global sales.
Kirin Holdings was under heavy pressure from Movendi International members, Amnesty International and the global community to end its partnership with the Myanmar Military due to drastic human rights violations by the military.
- An Amnesty International investigation revealed the links between MEHL and Myanmar military units charged with egregious human rights abuses.
- Kirin’s subsidiary in Myanmar made three donations to the Burmese military during the army’s offensive in 2017 that forced over 700,000 Rohingya civilians to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. United Nations investigators concluded that this operation included mass killings and gang rapes and was executed with “genocidal intent”.
Through its joint ventures, Kirin was legitimizing and funding the Myanmar military as it faced charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice.
Despite announcing their exit from the joint ventures with MEHL Kirin is planning to continue their presence in Myanmar through a different local partner.
However, things are not going according to plan for Kirin Holdings. In November, 2021 MEHL filed a petition in Yangon to liquidate the joint venture. If successful, the petition would give MEHL control of the liquidation process. This would hamper Kirin’s plans to continue the joint venture in Myanmar with a different local partner.
Kirin has announced that MEHL has been uncooperative in the termination process of the joint venture.
In December, 2021, in response to the dispute with MEHL, the Singaporean arm of Kirin Holdings has applied for arbitration in Singapore at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
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