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Suntory Holdings Ltd., the closely held whisky and beer maker, is exploring the possibility of making a takeover bid for the U.S. distiller Beam Inc., according to a Suntory official.

The Osaka-based company has held talks with the British firm Diageo about a potential joint offer, the Suntory official said, asking not to be identified because the talks were private.

Suntory and Diageo are currently not in discussions and Suntory can make the offer by itself, the official said.

Buying the Illinois-based maker of Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Canadian Club liquor would help Suntory push overseas to offset a shrinking population at home. Suntory would not make an offer at the current share price because it is too expensive, the official said. Beam’s stock has gained 17 percent so far this year.

Suntory hasn’t approached Beam nor has it made a bid for the U.S. company, the official said.

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