Beer Brands Return to Heineken from Military-Owned Brewery
By Kyaw Hsu Mon 3 February 2016
RANGOON — Two well-known beers, Tiger and ABC Stout, are returning to their mother company after two decades with the military-backed Myanmar Brewery, Heineken announced on Wednesday.
Tiger and ABC Stout, which Myanmar Brewery has produced and distributed for the Burmese market since 1995, are finally going back to Heineken and its local partner, Asia Pacific Breweries-Alliance Brewery Company Limited (APB-ABC). As of late last year, Myanmar Brewery’s license to produce the two beers expired, said Lester Tan, managing director of the Heineken joint venture APB-ABC.
“Actually, we’re the original owner of both Tiger and ABC Stout. That’s why now, we’ll take them all back and sell to this expanding market,” Tan said on Wednesday at a press conference.
Tiger and ABC Stout will now be brewed in Heineken’s own US$60 million brewing facility in Rangoon’s Hmawbi Township, which opened in July last year. The brewery has the technical capacity to produce 33 million liters of beer per year, but this year the company plans to expand production to about 45 million liters, according to Tan.
Of the current Tiger and ABC Stout brand designs, Tan said the company will make changes to reflect an updated product look, but assured that the taste of the beers will remain the same.
“We’re excited to welcome both brands. It feels like a true homecoming and we’re pleased to bring these two beers to beer stations, restaurants and supermarkets in Myanmar,” he said.
Heineken and Myanmar Brewery have maintained a professional relationship since 1995. In the following decade, Heineken—a Dutch company—left the country due to economic sanctions imposed by the European Union against Burma’s military government. At this time, the Myanmar Brewery took over licenses for Heineken’s products and continued to produce Tiger and ABC Stout.
Myanmar Brewery is the producer of Myanmar Beer, Andaman Gold and Myanmar Double Strong, and currently has a strong lead in the domestic beer market. The company’s total revenue for the 2014-15 fiscal year topped 300 billion kyats (US$233 million), according to company figures. Their products are brewed in facilities in Rangoon’s Mingaladon Township.
Myanmar Brewery Limited (MBL) was established in 1995 as one of the earliest major joint-venture projects in Myanmar with a total invested capital of US$60 million.
“It seems the previous company [Myanmar Brewery] didn’t want to extend the license and did not contact us about an extension, so that’s why we took this license back,” Tan said.
In 2013, Heineken began working with ABC, which is led by Aung Moe Kyaw, a Burmese entrepreneur well known in the beverage industry. Of the company’s shares, ABC claims 43 percent and the remaining 57 percent are owned by Heineken. In the last three years, they have also introduced a new beer in Burma: Regal Seven.