Japan’s Suntory wins race for Danone’s Frucor with $1.2b bid

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 24th October 2008

Japanese-based Suntory Limited has signed an agreement with Danone Asia Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Groupe Danone, to purchase their beverage business Frucor. The sale was completed for an amount of over €600 million (about A$1.2b).

Danone announced a review of Frucor, their Australian and New Zealand-based beverage business, in August as they continued to refocus on becoming a health and wellness company. They began the bidding process in September with a number of suitors reportedly keen on their beverage business, including Coca-Cola Amatil, National Foods and Asian soft drink bottlers Fraser & Naeve.

“This transaction stems from the recent refocus on natural mineral water and spring water based beverages and will allow Danone to focus on its core business growth opportunities,” a Danone statement advised.

“Frucor has played an instrumental role in Danone’s growth and innovation strategy over the past six years. We are convinced that this new step will allow Frucor to ensure its long term development within the beverages market,” stated Emmanuel Faber, Co Chief Executive Officer of Danone, upon announcement of the sale.

Suntory is one of Japan’s oldest distributors of alcoholic beverages and has been linked to a bid for the beverage division of Cadbury Schweppes in Australia. The food and beverage firm, which has their Oceania headquarters in Rosebery, NSW, has diversified their operations in recent years by expanding into foodservice and a number of new food and beverage categories. The research center and corporate headquarters of their flower development company, Florigene – a company which is trying to create the world’s first blue-coloured rose, is in Melbourne.

Suntory also became a part of popular culture with the release of the renowned 2003 film Lost In Translation. The movie, which won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, saw Bill Murray play an ageing movie star who travels to Tokyo to film an advertisement for Suntory whisky.

Frucor, New Zealand’s second largest non-alcoholic beverage manufacturer, owns the popular Mizone, Evian and V brands and are the bottlers for Pepsi in New Zealand. The company has annual sales in the vicinity of €210 million, Danone reported.

The transaction is subject to the approval by the New Zealand authorities.