Lion Nathan yesterday (7 October) ceased to exist as a separate entity after Australia's Federal Court approved the takeover of the brewer by Japan's Kirin Holdings. Here we take a look at five facts on the history of Lion Nathan.

  1. Lion Nathan was formed in 1988 as a result of a merger between LD Nathan & Co and Lion Breweries. The original forerunner of the company was Brown Campbell & Co, which merged with the Albert Brewery in 1878, to form Campbell and Ehrenfried. In 1914 the company then merged with the Great Northern Brewery, which owned the Lion brand. In 1923 ten breweries amalgamated to form New Zealand Breweries, including Campbell and Ehrenfried. The northern division of New Zealand Breweries adopted the name Lion Breweries in 1977, and by the late 1980s, New Zealand Breweries had developed into one of the country's largest companies. In 1988 Lion Breweries took over LD Nathan & Co, New Zealand's largest retailer, to form Lion Nathan.
  2. In 1990 Lion Nathan became an Australasian business when it established a major presence in Australia by securing management control of Bond Corporation's brewing assets, including the Tooheys Brewery in Sydney and Castlemaine Perkins in Brisbane. In 1998 Douglas Myers sold most of his 16% share in Lion Nathan to Kirin Brewery Company of Japan, creating the fourth largest brewing alliance in the world. Kirin held a 46% stake in Lion Nathan before shareholders voted in favour of a complete takeover last month.
  3. Lion Nathan produces and markets a range of beer, wine, RTDs and spirits. The company employs around 1,800 Australians and 1,400 New Zealanders, and until yesterday (7 October), was an ASX100 company, with shares trading on both the Australian and New Zealand Stock Exchanges. Together with Foster's Group, the companies controlled 95% of the Australian beer market.
  4. The company has made a number of acquisitions over the last eight years. In 2001, Lion Nathan purchased a controlling interest in premium Australian wine companies Petaluma and Banksia. A year later, the company added to its premium wine business with the purchase of New Zealand wine company Wither Hills. In 2003, Lion Nathan established a joint venture with Bacardi-Martini to market, sell and distribute a range of ready-to-drink and spirit brands in Australia. A year later and Lion Nathan entered into an unconditional agreement to sell its Chinese beer business to China Resources Breweries following a competitive sales process for US$154m. In the same year, the company established a joint venture with Heineken to make and sell Heineken in Australia.
  5. In 2005, Lion Nathan made a takeover bid for the independent South Australian Coopers Brewery. The takeover was strongly opposed by Coopers' management, and was rejected at an Extraordinary General Meeting when 93.4% of the shareholders voted in favour of permanently removing the "3rd tier purchasing rights" of Lion Nathan, effectively preventing any current or future takeover bid. The companies clashed and a court battle ensued with Coopers fighting to sustain its position as an independent family brewer. The dispute dated back to Lion Nathan's 1993 acquisition of South Australian Brewing, which owned a 19.9% stake in Coopers. Lion Nathan argued that Coopers was in breach of an agreement over a 2003 buyback of more than 30,000 shares. Lion said it was never offered those shares.