Suntory is in talks to snap up Orangina

City A.M. Reporter
JAPANESEbrewer Suntory is in talks to snap up Orangina for at $2.6bn (&pound;1.6bn) as it looks to grow oversees and offset the effects of the rapidly ageing population at home.<br /><br />Privately held Suntory, itself in talks to be sold to bigger rival Kirin, would likely pay more for Orangina than the $2.6bn that Blackstone and Lion Capital did in 2006.<br /><br />&ldquo;It is true that we are in talks, but nothing has been decided,&rdquo; a Suntory spokeswoman said.<br /><br />A sale of Orangina, known for its orange-juice based soft drink sold in a distinctive bulb-shaped bottle, could spark further consolidation in the drinks sector and mark a successful exit for the private equity owners.<br /><br />Buyout firms have struggled to find exit routes for their investments amid the global financial turmoil, and traditional routes of selling assets to rivals or taking them public are only just starting to become viable again.<br /><br />&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re going to see more deals, and deals at higher prices,&rdquo; said Tom Pirko, president of Bevmark, a beverage consulting firm. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be a good time, for the first time in a long time, to be a seller, as opposed to just a buyer.&rdquo;<br /><br />Japanese firms are keen to expand overseas as beer sales decline in a rapidly ageing home market, where the population is projected to fall by a third in coming decades.<br /><br />Analysts said the Kirin-Suntory combination, which would control half of Japan&rsquo;s beer market and 30 per cent of soft drinks, would be big enough to pursue oversees deals.