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Japan's Suntory completes US$16b buyout of Jim Beam maker

Suntory Holdings of Japan said Thursday it had completed a $16 billion buyout of the firm behind Jim Beam bourbon, creating the world's third largest high-end spirits maker.

TOKYO: Suntory Holdings of Japan said Thursday it had completed a $16 billion buyout of the firm behind Jim Beam bourbon, creating the world's third largest high-end spirits maker.

Suntory Holdings has acquired all outstanding shares of Beam Inc for nearly $13.9 billion while taking on $2 billion of debts at the US firm.

As a result of the transaction, Beam has been renamed Beam Suntory Inc.

The new company intends to integrate the spirits business of Suntory Liquors Ltd of Japan before the end of this year.

"The transaction creates a company with the strong number three position in the global premium spirits market," Suntory said in a statement.

Beam Inc markets a range of bourbons and internationally known whiskies, having evolved from a small family base in the US state of Kentucky.

Combined sales of Beam Inc and Suntory's spirits business were $4.6 billion in 2013, the statement said.

Beam Suntory will be headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois and led by chairman and chief executive officer Matt Shattock, who has been CEO of Beam since 2009.

"By combining the world leader in bourbon and Japan's leading spirits company, we have created a stronger global business with an even better premium portfolio," Shattock was quoted as saying in the statement.

Suntory, one of Japan's biggest brewers and non-alcoholic drinks makers, is widely known in the country for commercials featuring Hollywood movie stars including Tommy Lee Jones. Its eponymous whiskey played a starring role in the 2003 Bill Murray film "Lost in Translation".

The buyout marks the latest foreign acquisition by the family-owned Japanese firm as it looks abroad to head off a declining domestic market.

Company president Nobutada Saji last year told the leading Nikkei business daily that Suntory was eyeing a deal that would amount to a "once-in-a-lifetime gamble".

It far eclipses the value of previous Suntory acquisitions, including the $1.56 billion purchase of the Lucozade and Ribena soft drinks brands in September.

Suntory said it would finance the deal mainly with bank loans of 800 billion yen ($7.8 billion) and 600 billion yen of cash.

It also inherited 200 billion yen worth of bonds from Beam.

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