Suntory finalises purchase of Frucor

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 3rd February 2009

Groupe Danone has successfully completed the sale of its drinks subsidiary Frucor, based in New Zealand and Australia, to Japanese-based Suntory. The deal had been struck in October for an amount of over €600 million in cash (around A$1.2b) after a bidding battle began in September, with Coca-Cola Amatil and Fraser & Naeve reportedly among the unsuccessful bidders.”This divestment stems from Danone’s recent refocus on natural mineral water and spring water based beverages and will allow the company to focus on its core business growth opportunities,” the French-based company reported in a statement.

Frucor, which controls leading energy drink brand V, has annual sales of €210m and is New Zealand’s second-largest non-alcoholic beverage manufacturer. They are also the bottlers for Pepsi in New Zealand, ensuring that Pepsi will have two new Japanese partners in Australia and New Zealand if the sale of Schweppes to Asahi proceeds.

Suntory is one of Japan’s oldest distributors of alcoholic beverages and has been gradually expanding beyond Japanese borders. 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. They are also the majority shareholder of the Cerebos group of companies, whose brands in Australia include Saxa, Fountain and Gravox.

Suntory, which has annual turnover in the vicinity of A$23b, also became a part of popular culture with the release of the popular 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.