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The road has come to an end for Lion Nathan, which has officially been swallowed by Japan's Kirin Holdings.

Lion Nathan traces its own history back to James Squire, reputedly Australia's first brewer and who arrived on the country's shores as a convict in 1788, as part of the British First Fleet.

However, Lion Nathan itself only came into existence in 1988 when New Zealand's largest retailer, LD Nathan & Co, merged with brewer, wine and spirit manufacturer and hotel operator, Lion Breweries.

In the space of that time, the brewer has built quite an empire for itself, led by flagship beer brands such as Tooheys and Castlemaine XXXX.

The brewer bows out after a spirited performance in the face of global economic upheaval. Net sales rose by 6% for the nine months to the end of June, compared to the same period last year, while the group said in July that it was on-track to meet full-year profits guidance.   

Following clearance from Australia's Federal Court today, all profits and sales will become a part of the Kirin Holdings empire.

For Kirin, the last nine months have been some of the most active in the firm's history.

Aside from the deal for Lion Nathan, the group has amassed a near-49% stake in Philippines-based San Miguel Brewery, signed a joint-venture deal with Diageo and remains in discussions to merge with Japanese rival Suntory Holdings.

The Lion Nathan deal is a central plank in the company's strategy to expand beyond the shores of Japan, where the beer market is going nowhere fast.

By 2015, the firm plans to source 30% of its beer sales from outside of Japan, which has seen beer sales decline due to its ageing population. Kirin is expected to be sourcing 24% of its beer sales from overseas in 2009.

The group is going to become a force to be reckoned with the Asia Pacific zone.


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