Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Japanese Firm to Purchase Jim Beam

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Japanese Firm to Purchase Jim Beam

Article excerpt

Pennsylvania's two favorite bourbons soon will be owned by Japan's favorite distiller.

Beam Inc., owner of some of America's most popular bourbon brands, has agreed to a $13.6 billion cash takeover by Japanese beverage titan Suntory Holdings. It's the first big corporate acquisition of 2014 and a signal of the growing popularity of whiskey in general, and bourbon in particular, both domestically and overseas.

The total cash-and-debt value of the deal, should it be approved by Beam's shareholders, is $16 billion and would turn Suntory into the world's third-largest spirits company, giving it ownership of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons, as well as Courvoisier cognac, Sauza tequila and dozens of other spirits labels.

Beam, based in Deerfield, Ill., owns some of the most popular brands in Pennsylvania -- Jim Beam is the state's third most popular whiskey brand (behind Jack Daniel's and Seagram's) with 1.15 million units sold last fiscal year, according to the state Liquor Control Board, and is one of the top 20 wine and spirits brands overall. Jim Beam Bourbon is also the top-selling bourbon in the state.

Maker's Mark is a top 100 brand in Pennsylvania and saw sales increase nearly 12 percent last year. Beam brands are most popular in the western part of the state (known as region 3 to the PLCB), and its bourbon is a top-10 product by units sold.

All told, Pennsylvanians spent more than $20 million last fiscal year on Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons.

The deal, according to various analyses, would give Suntory 11 percent of the spirits market share in the U.S., up from less than 1 percent.

It also would put yet another American beverage company into foreign hands, reminiscent of Anheuser-Busch's 2008 sales agreement to Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev. Of the 10 largest spirits companies worldwide, only Kentucky's Brown-Forman Corp., owner of Jack Daniel's and Southern Comfort, will remain domestically headquartered after the Beam deal is sealed. …

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