* Suntory Beverage & Food to go public in H2 2013 - sources
* Japan IPO will raise 400-500 billion yen - sources
* Funds to be used for overseas acquisitions - Nikkei
By Emi Emoto
TOKYO, Dec 12 Japan's Suntory Holdings Ltd
plans to raise up to $6 billion in an initial public
offering of its food and non-alcoholic drinks unit, said people
with knowledge of the matter, as it looks to build funds for
Japanese drinks firms including Suntory, Kirin Holdings Co
Ltd and Asahi Group Holdings Ltd have
aggressively chased expansion abroad, including through
acquisitions, to be less dependent on a shrinking home market.
The maker of C.C. Lemon soft drinks and Yamazaki single malt
whisky aims to more than double sales at the food and beverages
unit, which does not include alcohol, to 2 trillion yen ($24.3
billion) by 2020 from 960 billion yen last year.
Suntory Beverage and Food Ltd plans to list in Tokyo in the
second half of 2013, raising 400-500 billion yen ($4.9
billion-$6.1 billion), said the sources, who did not want to be
identified as the plan was not public. The Nikkei newspaper
earlier reported that unlisted Suntory would use the IPO funds
for overseas acquisitions.
"Many of the European consumer staples have been struggling
in their home markets ... and as a result there may be fire
sales," said a consumer goods analyst at a foreign investment
bank in Tokyo, who declined to speak on the record as the bank
doesn't cover Suntory.
Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported last weekend
that Diageo Plc and Suntory held talks about a joint $10
billion bid for Jim Beam bourbon maker Beam Inc, and
the Japanese group has also been reported to have an interest in
Danone SA's water business.
So far this year, Japanese firms have spent a record $83.8
billion on outbound mergers and acquisitions, one fifth more
than a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.
CHANGES AT HOME
Japan's ageing population, uncertain long-term outlook and
constant deflation have weighed on a fragmented beverage sector,
increasing talk of consolidation as leading consumer goods firms
chase market share. Japan's beer market shrank by more than 15
percent in volume shipments in the last decade.
Earlier this year, Asahi completed a $1.5 billion deal for
milky drink maker Calpis, and Sapporo Holdings Ltd last
year paid more than $500 million for canned beverage maker Pokka
Corp, in two of the larger recent domestic drinks deals.
With Japan sales likely to be pressured further on
government plans to increase the sales tax to 8 percent in 2014
and to 10 percent in 2015, from 5 percent now, restructuring is
more likely, increasing investor interest in Suntory.
"This is just an assumption, but, for example, if Suntory
considers buying businesses which do not overlap theirs, such as
(Japanese) milk beverages and canned coffee, and sees it as part
of its growth strategy, (the stock) would be interesting," said
Yasuo Sakuma, chief executive of Bayview Asset Management, which
had 130 billion yen ($1.6 billion) of assets under management as
Suntory, Japan's No.2 soft drink maker behind local bottlers
for Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc, explored a merger with
Kirin before talks broke down in 2010.
SUNTORY TO KEEP STAKE IN UNIT
Suntory, which traces its roots to the late 19th century and
a small Japanese wine production business, grew in the 1920s
with the country's first malt whisky distillery, and began
brewing beer in the 1960s. The Osaka-based firm bought soft
drinks maker Orangina Schweppes for more than 300 billion yen in
2009, and a year later acquired the Western Europe rights to the
Sunny Delight fruit drink. Last year, it entered into a joint
venture with Indonesian food and beverage group GarudaFood.
The food and non-alcoholic beverages business accounts for
around half the group's total sales, according to the company's
website. At end-June, the group had cash and deposits of 225
billion yen ($2.73 billion).
After the IPO - which would be Japan's biggest since Japan
Airlines' $8.5 billion re-listing in September -
Suntory plans to retain a sizeable stake in Suntory Beverage and
Food, whose businesses include making tea and juices and
distributing PepsiCo Inc beverages and chilled drinks
for Starbucks Corp, the sources said.
Asked about the possible IPO, a Suntory spokeswoman said
nothing had been decided.
Japan has seen 47 IPOs so far this year, raising $11.5
billion in total, with JAL accounting for nearly three-quarters
of that. In the same period, Asia IPOs, excluding Japan,
totalled $38.1 billion, less than half year-ago levels,
according to Thomson Reuters data.