Heineken is stepping up its presence in the crucial Chinese market by striking up a deal with the country's largest brewer.

The $3.1bn (£2.4bn) partnership with China Resources Beer will give Heineken a foothold in one of the world's fastest-growing markets for premium beer consumption.

Under the terms of the agreement, Heineken will acquired a 40 per cent stake in the company. Its current China operations will be combined with CR Beer's.

CR Beer will also take on the licence for the Heineken brand in China on a long-term basis.

Read more: Heineken dampens profit guidance

China is already the world's biggest beer market, but the profitability of the region is expected to continue growing as more consumers reach for top-shelf drinks. The idea behind the deal is that Heineken's experience of adapting to the premiumisation trend can be combined with CR Beer's logistics and market penetration.

Heineken chairman and CEO Jean Francois van Boxmeer said: "We believe that our strong Heineken brand and marketing capabilities, combined with CR Beer's deep understanding of the local market, its scale and best-in-class distribution network will create a winning combination in the growing premium beer segment in China."

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