20 May 2009

Boost for Lion Nathan half-year profits

1:20 pm on 20 May 2009

The strong performance of Lion Nathan's Australian business has seen the brewer post a 7% increase in half year profit.

The firm, which is currently the subject of a takeover offer from its major shareholder, Kirin Holdings, made $A176 million in the six months to the end of March.

The company's Australian beer operations were the standout during the period, with earnings rising almost 13% on the back of stronger sales of its core beers like XXXX Gold, as well as its premium brands.

Earnings from its New Zealand operations, where it owns the Steinlager and Speights brands, rose 3.1%.

However, a fall in prices the company's wine business saw earnings plummet by more than half.

The result is in line with preliminary findings it put out last month when Kirin made its takeover offer, and the company repeated that it expected to make a full year profit of between $A305 million and $A315 million.

The brewer has signed an implementation agreement with Japan's Kirin Holdings for an offer of $A12.22 per share for the 56% of shares it does not already own.

While the offer is still officially subject to an independent report and a shareholder vote, it is widely considered that the deal will go through.