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Laphroaig Distillery in Japanese Hands

The Herald Scotland reported a few days ago that the Japanese drinks giant Suntory has moved to snap up Scotch whisky brands Teacher's, Laphroaig and Ardmore in a £9.8bn agreed takeover of New York-listed Beam.Their portfolio already included Islay's Bowmore Distillery since 1994.

Laphroaig Distillery

The Herald writes: The deal has been approved by the directors of both Suntory and Beam. It is expected to be concluded in the second quarter of this year. Alan Gray, whisky analyst at Sutherlands Edinburgh and author of the Scotch Whisky Review, noted there had been "rumours" Beam might be for sale after it spun out from Fortune Brands in 2011. He expressed some surprise that Suntory had made the move, given how long it had been since it last made an acquisition of this magnitude. But he said: "They might not have been the first one on my list to do it, but when you think about it they are a huge worldwide group and clearly they have ambition. There were only a handful that would be big enough to do it and they would have been one of them." Teacher's and Laphroaig joined the Beam portfolio in 2005 after Fortune had teamed up with Pernod Ricard to acquire Allied Domecq. Suntory said Beam's president and chief executive Matt Shattock and his team will continue to run Beam from its headquarters in Chicago. Continue reading....

The Food and Beverage website mentioned four good reasons why Suntory buys Beam:

  • The deal will make Suntory the world’s third-largest maker of distilled drinks with strength in Bourbon, Scotch, Canadian, Irish and Japanese whisky and will be able to rival Diageo and Pernod Ricard.
  • About two-thirds of Suntory’s sales are in Japan – and are growing at just 3 per cent a year. Buying Beam will help the Japanese group counter the decline in its domestic market, whose shrinking population has intensified competition.
  • The deal gives Suntory instant access to the US – the world’s largest spirits market
  • Best-known outside Japan for its Orangina Schweppes business and its recent acquisition of Ribena and Lucozade, Suntory will now be able to boast some of the world’s most sought-after spirits’ brands, including Jim Beam, Teacher’s and Laphroaig Scotch whiskies

Next up for sale could be Whyte and Mackay, owners of the Isle of Jura Distillery and others in Scotland, and who knows, Suntory might want to bid on them too.

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