Heineken agrees to $3.1 billion deal with China's largest brewer

Heineken has coined a $3.1 billion relationship with China Resources Beer as the two firms look to tap a growing thirst for premium brands in the world’s biggest beer market.

The deal will see Heineken, the world’s No. 2 brewer, take a 40 percent stake in CR Beer for HK$24.35 billion ($3.1 billion), giving the Dutch brewer a strong distribution network in China and greater access to one of the world’s fastest-growing premium beer sectors.

China Resources Enterprise, which owns CR Beer, will also buy 0.9 percent of Heineken shares for 464 million euros ($537.5 million). The two firms said in a joint statement.

“We believe we can win together in this new era of the Chinese beer market, in which the premium segment will become increasingly important,” said Chen Lang, chairman of China Resources Enterprise.

He expects the deal will also help China Resources Beer expand its market share and give it a lead over Chinese rivals.

Heineken entered China in 1983 but has struggled to set up a strong distribution network and to make a mark with its flagship Heineken lager, which lags far behind AB InBev’s Budweiser in the premium market, analysts say.

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