Thu, Dec 13, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Suntory Group eyes US$6 billion listing, reports say

AFP, TOKYO

Japan’s Suntory Group is planning a US$6 billion stock listing of its food and non-alcoholic drinks unit, according to reports yesterday.

The firm would make its Tokyo listing plans official by year’s end with the up to ¥500 billion (US$6 billion) initial public offering set for next summer, the leading Nikkei business daily reported, adding that the move was aimed at funding Suntory’s overseas expansion plans.

Privately held Suntory — which two years ago scrapped plans to merge with Japanese beverage giant Kirin to create one of the world’s largest beer and soft-drink companies — would keep a majority stake in the division, the Nikkei said.

Suntory, a major whisky maker that is also one of Japan’s biggest brewers, denied reports about plans for listing its Suntory Beverage & Food unit, which produces non-alcoholic beverages including soft drinks and bottled tea.

“Certain news agencies have reported on matters regarding the initial public offering of Suntory Beverage & Food Limited,” the company said on its Web site. “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 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 (青島) to expand its reach in the world’s biggest beer market.

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

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