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Beer to Healthcare

The Japanese brewer Kirin is looking to expand further into the healthcare and pharmaceutical fields, the Financial Times reports.

It adds that the brewer plans to invest ¥100 billion (US $870 million) into its pharmaceutical efforts, which it first launched in the 1980s, as a means of reinventing itself as alcohol consumption in Japan declines. In particular, Yoshinori Isozaki, the Kirin CEO, tells FT that he wants the company to avoid becoming like Eastman Kodak — the photography giant filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after failing to catch on to move to digital photography.

"We want to turn Kirin into a fermentation biotechnology company. We need to grow a new business while the beer segment is still healthy," Isozaki adds at FT.

FT notes that Kirin, in addition to the ¥100 billion it is putting into research and development in healthcare and pharmaceuticals, is also investing ¥80 billion in its beer and other beverage business. Isozaki tells it that he expects the company's health sciences section to yield ¥200 billion in revenue by 2027, but FT says some Kirin activist shareholders are not convinced that these efforts will replicate the profits the brewery business has made.

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