Kirin aims to seal Suntory deal soon: report

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 23rd July 2009

Kirin Holdings is planning to commit to a merger with Suntory in the near future in a bid to become the leading player in the food and beverage sectors in Asia and Oceania, according to a report published today.

“We aim to be a leading company in Asia and Oceania,” Kirin Holdings Co. president Kazuyasu Kato told the Nikkei economic daily. “We’ll bolster our business strength and accelerate our expansion in overseas growth markets” by integrating operations with Suntory Holdings Ltd. “sometime this year or beyond.”

Kirin has been making some key strategic moves in Oceania in recent years, with this year’s proposed acquisition of brewer Lion Nathan following purchases of National Foods and Dairy Farmers in Australia. The company also made an unsuccessful play for Coca-Cola Amatil last year. And now the company has set its sights on Suntory and “will waste no time” in reaching suitable terms with another Japanese player familiar to the Australian marketplace.

Japanese brewers have been looking beyond their stagnant home market for years, with the likes of Asahi, Suntory and Kirin all purchasing large Oceania-based businesses in the past year. Beyond Kirin, Suntory purchased the maker of ‘V’ energy drinks – Frucor – this year, while Asahi took control of Schweppes.

A merger of the two firms would see the creation of a global giant and one of the world’s five largest food and beverage companies. However, the report’s suggestion that it would be a ‘merger of equals’ has been disputed this afternoon by Kirin.

“Today, a news media reported that Kirin Holdings Company, Limited (Kirin) will discuss ‘equal business merger’ with Suntory Holdings Limited. However, the line is not based on the company’s announcement,” they advised.

“Kirin will make immediate announcement once anything which needs to be disclosed will be resolved.”