India's Bira 91 raises $70 mln in Kirin-led funding round

An employee carries Bira beer cans to deliver them to a customer at a liquor store in Mumbai, India March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

BENGALURU, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Indian craft beer maker Bira 91 has raised $70 million in a funding round led by Japanese beer company Kirin Holdings Co Ltd (2503.T) as it looks to ramp up production amid strong demand for the alcoholic beverage, the two companies said on Tuesday.

Bira competes with brands such as Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) and Heineken-owned (HEIN.AS) United Breweries (UBBW.NS) in India's estimated $5 billion beer market.

Craft beer sales are on the rise in India as younger, affluent consumers in big cities choose brands and pubs that make lighter brews and promise fresher ingredients.

Bira did not say what its valuation or Kirin's stake would be after the funding round, but said it would use the funds to build new breweries and expand existing facilities, increasing its footprint, which spans 550 towns in 18 countries.

Kirin, which first invested $30 million in Bira for an under 10% stake last year, was set to pump in the additional funds for an around 15% stake at an equity valuation of $450 million, Reuters reported in September. read more

A Bira spokesperson declined to comment further, while Kirin did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters seeking additional comment.

The new funding comes after Bira reported an operating loss of $4 million in the quarter to June 2022, although net sales revenue was 132% higher at $20 million, according to an internal investor presentation seen by Reuters.

For Kirin, the investment comes as Japan's major drinks makers face a steady decline in revenue from alcohol sales as the domestic population shrinks and younger people drink less than in previous decades, forcing companies to expand overseas or foray into new markets.

Reporting by Meenakshi Maidas in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza

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