• Kyodo

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Kirin Holdings Co. said Thursday it will sell its Australian dairy and beverage business to Bega Cheese Ltd. for about 560 million Australian dollars (¥40.9 billion), after an initial deal with a Chinese firm failed to obtain regulatory approval amid heightened Sino-Australian tensions.

Under the agreement, Kirin’s subsidiary will sell all shares in Lion-Dairy and Drinks Pty Ltd. to Australia’s Bega Cheese in the first quarter of 2021, according to the major Japanese brewer.

Bega Cheese Executive Chairman Barry Irvin said the acquisition will deliver “important industry consolidation.”

“The expanded product range, manufacturing and distribution infrastructure and brand portfolio realizes our ambition of creating a truly great Australian food company,” the chairman said in a statement.

For Kirin, the sale is part of its drive to offload underperforming assets overseas and focus on profitable businesses. In August, Kirin gave up on a deal to sell the Australian unit to China Mengniu Dairy Co. as Canberra stepped up its scrutiny of foreign investments.

Diplomatic relations between Australia and China have worsened over the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing’s tightening of its grip on Hong Kong. Canberra has called for an international probe into the origin of the virus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan last year.

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