Kirin, Suntory to merge?

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 13th July 2009

Food and beverage firms Kirin Holdings and Suntory are reportedly in talks regarding a potential multi-billion dollar merger, which could have ramifications on the beverage landscape in Australia.

Nikkei English News, citing unidentified people, said the Japanese companies were hoping to reach an agreement by year’s end, with talks between the leaders of the two companies progressing since the end of 2008.

Both companies have recently been looking overseas to diversify their portfolios and shield them from a shrinking Japanese marketplace. Kirin purchased Australian dairy business National Foods in 2007 and followed up with the acquisitions of Dairy Farmers last year and brewer Lion Nathan this year*. They also made a play for Coca-Cola Amatil last year.

Suntory has also been boosting their Australian and New Zealand interests, via the $1.2b purchase of Frucor early this year. The company, which became a part of popular culture with the release of renowned 2003 film Lost In Translation, is the distributor of Piper-Heidsieck, Cointreau, Remy Martin, Midori, Frangelico, Jagermeister, Glenfiddich, Jose Cuervo and Campari brands in Australia.

Suntory has since told Reuters that they are currently mulling a number of options including a merger but nothing had been decided yet.

Kirin response

“Today, a news media reported that Kirin Holdings Company, Limited (Kirin) and Suntory Holdings Limited (Suntory) are in talks of business merger. However, the contents of the article are not what Kirin has announced,” the Japanese brewer advised.

“Kirin and Suntory have already collaborated in various operational areas such as distribution and procurement. However, nothing has been resolved or reached an agreement in the area of business merger.”

*Still requires shareholder approval.