Suntory said looking to list beverage unit in 2013

Billions sought for huge acquisition binge abroad

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI

Suntory Holdings Ltd. is looking to list its core beverage and food unit, Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd., on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2013 with the aim of financing the group’s overseas expansion plans, company sources said Wednesday.

The holding company plans to use hundreds of billions of yen to be raised through the listing for mergers and acquisitions activities abroad, they said.

It will be the first large-scale public offering by a Suntory unit, as most of its subsidiaries have not been listed, with a 90 percent stake in the holding firm owned by the founding family.

Among Suntory’s subsidiaries, Dynac Co., which operates restaurants in Japan, is listed on the second section of the TSE.

On Wednesday, however, Suntory denied the report.

“These reports are not based on any official announcements by Suntory Group. No facts relating to the matter have been confirmed at this point.”

Suntory Holdings has been expanding business overseas mainly in Asia amid the shrinking domestic market.

The company has acquired an Indian food and beverage firm and plans to enter the beverage business in Vietnam by buying a 51 percent stake in major U.S. beverage firm PepsiCo. Inc.’s local subsidiary next year.

Suntory Beverage & Food was established in 2011 as the holding company integrated its domestic and overseas beverage and food operations.

In its midterm business plan, the firm aims to double its current sales to ¥2 trillion by 2020.

Suntory Group posted sales of ¥1.8 trillion last year with its food and beverage sector accounting for ¥970.6 billion in revenue.

Major Japanese beverage makers have aggressively sought to expand abroad in recent years to offset their shrinking domestic market, while a strong yen has made the foreign shopping spree relatively cheaper.

In June, Suntory said it would form a joint venture with Chinese brewer Tsingtao to expand its reach in the world’s biggest beer market.

Suntory earlier this year also said it will buy a 51 percent stake in Indian food and drink maker Narang Group and form a joint venture, while in 2009 it bought Europe’s Orangina Schweppes Group for about $3.3 billion.

Beer shipments off 0.7%

Kyodo

Shipments of beer and beerlike drinks in November fell 0.7 percent from a year earlier to 36.25 million cases, the first drop in two months, reports by five major brewers showed Wednesday.

Relatively cool weather dampened sales of regular beer, while shipments of inexpensive third-category beerlike drinks hit a new high for a November, with new brands selling well, the reports showed.

Shipments of regular beer slumped 4.1 percent to 18.59 million cases, while those of third-category beer climbed 5.5 percent to 12.69 million cases. Shipments of “happoshu” low-malt beer fell 2.1 percent to 4.96 million cases.

The five brewers are Asahi Breweries Ltd., Kirin Brewery Co., Sapporo Breweries Ltd., Suntory Liquors Ltd. and Orion Breweries Ltd.