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Japanese conglomerate Suntory to buy Jim Beam

Jan. 13, 2014 at 2:12 PM

OSAKA, Japan, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Japanese alcoholic-beverage-producer-turned-conglomerate Suntory said it had agreed to buy Beam, makers of Jim Beam whiskey, in a deal worth $16 billion.

Suntory, which was founded in 1899 and produced Japan's first whiskey in 1923, controls vast holdings in Japan, including a multibrand beverage business, fitness spas, health clubs, Subway restaurants and golf ranges, the New York Times reported Monday.

The company has offered $83.50 per share, a 25 percent premium over Friday's closing price, for Beam, producer of Maker's Mark and Jim Beam bourbons and Teacher's and Laphroaig Scotch whiskies.

The deal values Beam at $13.6 billion, but includes a large debt, that Suntory will take over.

The debt prompted Moody's Investors Service to put Suntory Holdings in line for a credit review, the Times said.

"This high metric alone would not be consistent with an investment grade rating; however, a key consideration will be the extent to which deleveraging going forward, various qualitative factors and synergies could offset the high leverage expected following the acquisition," Moody's said.

Suntory is little known in the United States, but achieved some brand recognition when it was endorsed by Bill Murray as part of the feature film, "Lost in Translation."

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