Suntory’s Beam move is just round one

Suntory’s move for Beam “is not the end of it by any means”, leading drinks analyst Jeremy Cunnington of Euromonitor International has told DI.

Suntory and Beam jointly announced today that a deal has been struck for $16bn.

Cunnington said: “I think the major international spirits companies will try to put a counter bid together. CEOs of all the major companies will be humming with this news. Pernod Ricard in particular and a number of other companies will not give up without a fight. Pernod says they want to pay off their debt but they will not pass up the opportunity.”

According to a joint statement from Beam and Suntory, the deal has been agreed by the companies’ board of directors but will not be completed until the second quarter of 2014 as it is subject to “Beam’s stockholders’ approval, regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions”.

“Agreed does not mean it’ signed, sealed and delivered. It is subject to approval,” said the Euromonitor International drinks analyst.

In the event of a counter bid, Cunnington said “Beam would have to be split up".

"There would be competition issues for many of the groups – for instance Pernod taking Larios. William Grant & Sons are cash rich and it would be a great chance to get a cognac (Courvoisier)," he said.

“For Rémy Cointreau there are competition issues with Courvoisier but they’d be interested in getting a small batch bourbon like Knob Creek. Diageo would be keen on Maker’s Mark. They have Bulleit but it is 20% of the size of Maker’s Mark,” he said.

Cunnington said Suntory’s motivation for the acquisition was to broaden its portfolio and move away from a domestic focus.