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2014年2月 3日 (月)

大型企業買収 国際化に布石打つサントリー

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 2, 2014
Suntory shows remarkable ambition by making huge acquisition abroad
大型企業買収 国際化に布石打つサントリー(2月2日付・読売社説)

While waging a war of attrition in the shrinking domestic market, a company relying mainly on domestic demand has gone on the offensive abroad in an effort to boost growth.

Suntory Holdings Ltd. has announced it will purchase Beam Inc., the largest spirits company in the United States, for $16 billion (about ¥1.6 trillion). It is the biggest overseas acquisition undertaken in Japan’s food industry.

Beam is known for a broad lineup of products, including such famous bourbon whiskeys as Jim Beam, as well as vodka and tequila. The company’s sales outlets have spread extensively around the world, including Russia and Brazil.

The takeover will make Suntory the world’s third-largest maker of distilled drinks in terms of revenue, up from 10th place.

It seems Suntory has taken the acquisition action to strengthen its business operations in the United States and emerging economies by making effective use of Beam’s high brand recognition and international marketing networks.

The earnings potential of domestic beverage firms has been dwindling because of intensifying price competition in addition to a shrinking market due to the nation’s graying society and low birthrate.

In contrast, the number of middle-income consumers has been on the rise in China and the emerging economies in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Prospects for expanding sales in these areas are bright for whiskey and other relatively high-priced alcoholic drinks.

Suntory’s strategy of pursuing the goal of morphing into a global company by swiftly building a foothold overseas by putting a powerful foreign firm under its control can be said to be in line with the needs of the times.

The cash needed for the takeover, ¥1.6 trillion, is massive enough to be close to the Suntory group’s annual sales.

Promising option

A number of market analysts point out that the huge corporate acquisition may prove to be a bad bargain, saying Suntory’s management has taken a major gamble.

To prevent its investment from becoming a gigantic burden, Suntory must further enhance its operational efficiency and boost profitability.

All member firms of the Suntory group must act together to craft a marketing strategy by taking the global market into account, while at the same time exercising ingenuity to develop new products and reduce distribution costs. These efforts are essential to take full advantage of the acquisition.

On the strength of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s business expansion policy, signs are emerging that the national economy is picking up. All businesses have been thinking hard about how to expand markets for their key merchandise.

In the eyes of companies seeking to grow, the purchase of overseas firms like that by Suntory is one of the most promising options.

We hope to see companies in such sectors as the food industry and distribution services accelerating their moves to tap demand abroad, particularly in other Asian countries.

As the yen is likely to remain weak, there are concerns that the cost of corporate acquisitions may swell. Because of the effects of the Bank of Japan’s monetary easing policy, however, companies are favorably positioned to secure funding from financial institutions.

Companies should consider the current state of affairs a good opportunity to improve their operations by breaking away from their inward-looking mode of thinking and make a leap forward in the global arena.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 2, 2014)
(2014年2月2日01時25分  読売新聞)


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