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Kirin Turns to Health Care as Beer Business Draws Scrutiny

  • The company has a $1.5 billion budget for acquisitions
  • Calls for stricter marketing rules may lead to more regulation
A customer picks up a can of Kirin Brewery Co.'s Strong Hyoketsu drink at a Lawson Inc. convenience store in Tokyo.

A customer picks up a can of Kirin Brewery Co.'s Strong Hyoketsu drink at a Lawson Inc. convenience store in Tokyo.

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

Kirin Holdings Co., Japan’s second-biggest brewer, is planning to expand in health care to reduce its reliance on beer as it foresees increasing regulation of the alcoholic beverages industry.

It’s one of the first major players to lay out its plans after the World Health Organization in May called for stricter rules on digital marketing that companies use to promote their products across borders and urged governments to set higher prices to discourage drinking. Kirin’s approach stands in contrast to bigger rivals like Anheuser-Busch InBev SA and Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., who are doubling down on alcohol and investing in higher-end businesses like craft beers.