Suntory Snaps Up Jim Beam

By on January 15, 2014

At R148 billion, the acquisition is the Japanese beverage company’s biggest yet.

Suntory: sounds, admittedly, a bit like that time David Cameron was photographed looking a bit burnt with his shirt off, but it’s actually a Japanese drinks company (remember Bill Murray’s ad in Lost in Translation?) which spent last year sniffing around UK beverage brands and eventually settled for Lucozade and Ribena, for which it paid R27 billion.

Now the company has stocked its drinks cabinet again, buying US whisky manufacturer Beam, the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and Teacher’s Scotch, for R909.86 a share, a total of about R148 billion, which will make it the world’s third-largest maker of distilled drinks.

It’s been an acquisitive few years for Suntory: as well as Lucozade and Ribena, in 2009 it bought Orangina Schweppes. This, though, is by far its biggest deal so far: as well as its eponymous bourbon, Beam’s brands include Courvoisier cognac and Sauza tequila (alas, not the stuff with the worm in it), which Suntory will add to its Midori liqueur and Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki, Kakubin and Bowmore scotch brands. 

Scotch is, as you can see, big business in Japan. Expect UK brands – Grant’s, Johnnie Walker Black Label, Talisker – to be targets in 2014.

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