Japanese Firm Buys Beam for $16 Billion, Creating New Spirits Giant

The Maker of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark Will Remain in Chicago

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Suntory Holdings, the closely held Japanese whiskey and beer maker, said it will buy Beam Inc. for $16 billion to gain brands such as Maker's Mark whiskey and create the world's third-largest premium spirits company.

Beam brands
Beam brands

Shareholders in the Deerfield, Ill.-based maker of Jim Beam and Canadian Club liquor will receive $83.50 in cash per share, the Tokyo-based company said today in a statement. That compares with Beam's last closing price of $66.97.

The purchase will help Suntory boost overseas growth to offset a shrinking home population.

"Strategically, it makes sense for Suntory," said Trevor Stirling, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in London. "I'm a little surprised they decided to go it alone, but at the moment you have a strong yen and low interest rates."

The Beam management team will remain in place and Beam brands will continue to be managed from the marketer's Illinois headquarters, the companies said in a statement. Beam's flagship Jim Beam brand is handled by a consortium of agencies called Future Works that's composed of StrawberryFrog, New York; The Works, Sydney, Australia; and Jung von Matt, Hamburg, Germany. The brand recently launched its first-ever global campaign called "Make History."

Suntory's brands include Japanese whiskies Yamazaki, Hakushu and Hibiki.

Bloomberg News reported in December 2012 that Suntory had considered making an offer for Beam alongside Diageo, the world's biggest distiller.

The acquisition has "very little cost synergies," Mr. Stirling said, but allows Suntory greater exposure to the U.S., the world's most profitable spirits market, and to expand Beam's brands in faster-growing Asian markets.

The $16 billion purchase price includes assumption of Beam's outstanding net debt, according to the statement. The company has $2 billion in total debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

~ Bloomberg News with contributions from Ad Age ~

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