EU approves $13.6 billion Suntory, Beam deal

BRUSSELS Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:29am EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission has approved Suntory Holdings' $13.6 billion purchase of U.S. peer Beam Inc BEAM.N, making the Japanese company the world's third-largest spirits producer.

The deal brings together Beam's brands including Jim Beam bourbon with Suntory's Japanese whiskies and its Bowmore Scotch whisky.

"The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise competition concerns," the EU executive said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported on April 7 that the deal would go ahead.

Suntory SUNTH.UL, which generates more than 90 percent of its business in Japan, is seeking overseas growth to offset the shrinking domestic market as the population ages. Beam is the No. 4 premium spirits company in the world.

The deal will boost Suntory's share of the U.S. market to 11 percent from less than 1 percent and give it access to a stronger distribution network in key emerging markets like India, Russia and Brazil.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)

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