Suntory Holdings Limited of Japan recently announced the purchase of US spirits maker Beam Inc. The US company is a top distiller with well-known global brands including “Jim Beam,” “Maker’s Mark,” and “Knob Creek” bourbon. Other famous names under the Beam holdings include Teacher’s and Laphroaig Scotch whiskey, Canadian Club whisky, and Courvoisier cognac.
The $16 billion acquisition is one of the largest overseas investments by Japanese companies in recent years according to Nikkei Newspapers, and continues a trend of large Japanese investments into US brands. Suntory, founded in 1899, is famous for producing Japan’s first whisky. Although Suntory is a leading beverage maker in Japan, its primary market for its alcohol business is beer which is now reaching oversaturation.
Suntory said in an official statement that the global whisky market is driving the fastest growth in spirits and that the United States is the world’s largest spirits market by value. Brand identity is critical in the spirits market and Suntory expects that Beam’s leading brands will help its growth combined with Beam’s already established global distribution network. Suntory’s strategy is to aggressively market many of Beam’s America-made products into the global marketplace.
The deal is expected to position Suntory as a global player in the premium spirits market with annual net sales exceeding $4.3 billion, placing Suntory third in sales after Diageo of the UK and Pernod Ricard of France in the world. Beam’s management team will continue to lead its business from its headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois.