Vodka Martini or Heineken?

Heineken takes over Tiger beer owner Asia Pacific Breweries…

Story & photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet All rights reserved

MEGA Beer brewer HeinekenNV of Amsterdam is spending another $4.0 billion to gain control over the Tiger beer brand. It is part of Heineken’s strategy to expand its operations in Asia.

After months of offers and counter offers, shareholders of Singapore-based conglomerate Fraser & Neave agreed on Friday, 28 September, 2012 to sell their 39.7 per cent stake in Asian Pacific Breweries, the owner of iconic Tiger Beer and other popular Asian brands, to Heineken. As an F & N shareholder I was at the EGM.

Heineken now controls 95 per cent of APB. In total, Heineken will have spent €4.7 billion (US$4.57bn) to boost its stake from 42 per cent to 95 per cent!

CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer explained, “the company wanted to move big and bold on the region, which is still a growth market for decades to come, for beer and premium beer.”

Van Boxmeer added, “I am pleased that F&N’s shareholders have voted in favour of our offer for APB and been able to realise full value from their investment,” said van Boxmeer. “Once completed, this transaction will further increase Heineken’s financial and geographic exposure to emerging markets and strengthen our competitive position in one of the most exciting regions in the world. Our regional headquarters will remain in Singapore with the Heineken and Tiger brands at the heart of our portfolio. We are now ideally positioned to expand our presence across the region and create long-term financial and strategic value for our shareholders.”

Though Van Boxmeer conceded Heineken is paying a “full price” for APB, he said there were huge potential returns available, citing a forecast that the premium segment in China, in which Heineken and Tiger operate, will grow by 12 per cent per year through 2020.

After the deal, which is being financed by debt, around 55 per cent of Heineken’s operating profits will come from “high growth” economies, Van Boxmeer claimed.

Heineken also sees prospects for cross-selling Tiger beer globally, as beer drinkers have “appetite for something that is exotic, that comes from somewhere else.”

Other APB-owned brands include Baron’s Strong Brew, DB Bitters, ABC Extra Stout and Anchor. In Indonesia it brews Bintang, in New Zealand, Tui, and in Malaysia, “Guinness Anchor Berhad.”

Heineken has owned part of APB via a joint venture with Fraser & Neave for nearly 80 years, but began working hastily to increase its stake in July. Heineken had to raise its bid for Fraser & Neave’s stake to ward off ThaiBev, a rival Thai bidder, and it also bought shares on the open market and from smaller stakeholders.

SNS Securities analyst Richard Withagen said the deal is positive for Heineken.

“Heineken’s initial bid for APB was already expensive, but even with the new higher offer, we still believe the deal to be compelling for Heineken from a strategic perspective,” he said.

Heineken shares rose 1.3 per cent to €46.58.

Guns, Gadgets, Girls & Heineken beer..

MY name is Bond…James Bond. Commander James Bond 007 will now drink Beer…Heineken Beer, straight from the green bottle in Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie in the franchise. This he does, scruffy & unshaven and lounging on a divan with a voluptuous woman in Turkey. Purists and 007 afficionados are aghast as they prefer their hero with a chilled Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred. However, as Daniel Craig, who is playing the role of 007 for the 3rd time, put it bluntly, “A movie like this costs $118 million to make – it’s the nature of it, the size of the movie. And it costs another $200 million to sell it. So the $200 million has to come from somewhere. Product placement, whichever way you look at it, whether you like it or you think it’s disgusting or whatever, it’s what it is. Heineken gave us a ton of money for there to be Heineken in a shot in a bar… Without them, the movie couldn’t get sold.”

Craig also said that drinking a beer isn’t out of place for James Bond. The super spy may prefer a shaken martini, but, according to Craig, a man under so much pressure will drink just about anything. Craig explained, “He likes a lot of drinks – Heineken, Champagne. It’s all in there.”

Production of the movie Skyfall was suspended due to financial troubles at MGM in 2010. With a shortfall in needed funds, the producers had to make tough decisions. Craig revealed candidly that one of those decisions was to replace James Bond’s famous shaken Vodka Martini with an ice cold Heineken.

Shaken not stirred…

 Interestingly enough, in the 1st James Bond movie “Dr. No”, 007 drank his trademark Vodka Martini with sponsorship from Smirrnoff Vodka. For “Casino Royale” (2006), James Thompson, President of Smirnoff Global Marketing said, “The James Bond and Smirnoff brands have gone hand in hand for more than 40 years, and throughout our rich history together, we have both remained true to our roots — clearly original. Today, Bond is as much a part of Smirnoff’s history as Smirnoff is of Bond’s — and we’re delighted to be part of this latest chapter,”

The close partnership between Smirnoff Vodka and Bond began in 1962’s “Dr. No” when the villain, Dr. Julius No, hands Sean Connery a “Martini, shaken not stirred” made with Smirnoff Vodka. This monumental moment in film history literally changed the way martini drinkers made their cocktails, shifting the drink from the traditional gin to a vodka-based cocktail. The Vodka Martini became a hit the world over.

For Queen & Champagne…Bubbly “Bolly”

Bollinger champagne featured in Ian Fleming’s book “Diamonds are forever” (1956) and subsequently in Bond movies like “Live and Let Die” (1973) and now Skyfall (2012). For “Skyfall” Bollinger’s Special Edition is called “002 for 007”. It comprises a bottle of La Grande Année 2002 housed in a Walther PPK pistol sound-suppressor shaped gift box with a combination lock – opened using the code: 007 (what else?)

The bottle carries a unique “50 years of Bond” logo on the neck label, textured to mimic a handgun’s grip, and will be available exclusively in London’s Harrods from 23 September, 2012.

With an RRP of £125-150, the special edition is approximately double the price of the standard La Grande Année 2002, which retails for around £70. Worldwide  30,000 packages have been produced for sale, and the UK has no set allocation.

2012 marks 39 years since Bollinger developed an on-screen relationship with the fictional MI6 officer “licenced to kill” created by Ian Fleming, and James Bond has been seen drinking Bollinger in 12 films of the 23 made in total. Bollinger’s connection to the Bond films is helping boost sales of the brand in Asia in particular.

“They go crazy for Bond in Asia, which is really helping with brand recognition and giving our sales a boost,” said Bollinger president Jérôme Philipon. Bollinger has collaborated with the producers and owners of the James Bond films, the Broccoli family, for 37 years. It is the longest standing relationship between a film series and a brand. Jerome explained, “They originally came to us as they wanted to feature the most British of Champagnes in the film, and we have a big connection to the UK, being the first champagne to be given the Royal Warrant.” Bollinger President Philipon revealed that Bollinger “hadn’t paid a penny” for it to be featured in the Bond films, but was lucky enough to have an incredibly strong relationship with the Broccoli family. Jerome continued proudly, “Brands like Sony, Coca-Cola and Jaguar are spending millions to appear in the film, but we’ve never exchanged a single Euro. Two of the top Champagne Houses have offered huge sums to be the Champagne of choice in the films, but the family hasn’t accepted their offers.”

Will Bond endorse a Big Mac instead of Oscietra Caviar next? Only time will tell…

Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred or Heineken anyone?


 I prefer Bollinger myself…

About thetravellinggourmet

As a renowned Travel, Food & Wine Writer he has travelled the world in a keen & indomitable pursuit of exotic delicacies & fine wines. His articles have been published in over 20 prestigious publications, both local & international. Dr. Lim has toured and trained in Wine Evaluation & Oenology in most of the world's top wine producing areas from France to Australia. The Travelling Gourmet says, "Gastronomy has no frontier. These are the gastronomic voyages of The Travelling Gourmet. My unending mission. To explore strange new cuisines, to seek out new wines and new culinary experiences, to boldly go where no gourmet has gone before...." Have pen, will travel. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any other information storage & retrieval system, without permission from Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet and/or MSN. Material may be works of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents may be true but may also be products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance whatsoever to actual person or persons, either dead or living, events, or locales may be entirely and purely coincidental and unintentional. No part of this website may be used to villify others or for criminal purposes. Interests: Travel, Food, Wines, Cooking, Wine Appreciation, Parachuting, Languages, Music, Reading, Swimming, Hunting, Ballet, Fencing, Archery, Anthropology and more... The Travelling Gourmet is a copyrighted trademark. All rights and photos reserved. No part may be reproduced without permission.
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