Kirin Holdings has insisted it is only interested in the food and soft drinks assets of Fraser and Neave, although the Japanese group has remained coy about its intentions amid a flurry of speculation about the Singapore business.

A deadline for F&N to decide on a takeover bid from brewing partner Heineken is set to elapse today. Heineken’s bid was sparked by Thai brewer ThaiBev’s acquisition of a stake in F&N.

Meanwhile, reports last week claimed Kirin, which bought its own stake in F&N in 2010, was mulling a bid for the Singapore firm’s food and soft drinks assets.

Kirin president Senji Miyake said today (3 August) the company had invested in F&N for its food and soft drinks assets. He dismissed any claims the Japanese firm was interested in Asia Pacific Breweries, F&N’s Tiger beer venture with Heineken. However, he was coy about whether Kirin would make a bid for the food and soft drinks assets.

“We are carefully considering what action is best, so we don’t have to alter our strategic growth plans,” Miyake said, according to Reuters.

His comments came less than 24 hours after F&N and APB voluntarily applied to suspend trading in their own shares, “pending [the] release of [an] announcement”.

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By GlobalData

Kirin’s clarification today followed its half-year results. For the six months to the end of June, net sales rose by 4%. However, operating profit fell by 21%. Net profit also fell, by 27% to JPY13.1bn.

The group blamed the knock-on effects of last year’s Japanese earthquake for hitting profits, as well as the exclusion of the firm’s chemicals business from its results.

Food and dairy divisions of the group’s Lion business in Australia continue to face “subdued consumer sentiment”, Kirin said. “Deep retailer discounting on white milk continues to impact the business,” it added, although speciality cheeses South Cape and Tasmanian Heritage saw strong value sales growth over the six-month period.

For the half-year, Lion’s net sales fell by 4% to JPY207.1bn.