Lion (Australasian Company) - History


The original forerunner of the company was Brown Campbell & Co, the company of John Logan Campbell and William Brown who established the Hobson Bridge Brewery in Auckland in 1840. It merged with the Albert Brewery, bought by Louis Ehrenfried in 1878, to form Campbell and Ehrenfried in 1898. The new company was managed by Arthur Myers, Ehrenfried's nephew. In 1914 Campbell and Ehrenfried merged with the Great Northern Brewery, which owned the Lion brand. In 1923 ten breweries amalgamated to form New Zealand Breweries. Campbell and Ehrenfried merged its breweries into New Zealand Breweries but remained a separate company. Douglas Myers, grandson of Arthur Myers, became CEO of Campbell and Ehrenfried in 1965.

The northern division of New Zealand Breweries adopted the name Lion Breweries in 1977. Campbell and Ehrenfried bought 19.9 per cent of Lion Breweries in 1981. By the late 1980s, New Zealand Breweries had developed into one of New Zealand's largest companies. In 1988 Lion Breweries took over LD Nathan & Co, New Zealand's largest retailer, to form Lion Nathan. In 1990 it became an Australasian business when it established a major presence in Australia by securing management control of Bond Corporation’s brewing assets, including the Tooheys Brewery in Sydney and Castlemaine Perkins in Brisbane. In 1998 Douglas Myers sold most of his 16 percent share in Lion Nathan to Kirin Brewery Company of Japan.

In 2005, Lion Nathan made a takeover bid for the independent South Australian Coopers Brewery. The takeover was strongly opposed by Coopers' management, and was rejected at an Extraordinary General Meeting when 93.4% of the shareholders voted in favour of permanently removing the "3rd tier purchasing rights" of Lion Nathan, effectively preventing any current or future takeover bid.

By 2009, the company was 46% owned by Kirin with the difference made up by Australian and New Zealand share funds. In September 2009, shareholders voted in favour of a complete takeover by Kirin Holdings.

Lion Nathan and Foster's Group together control 95% of the Australian beer market.

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