TOKYO Suntory Holdings Ltd SUNTH.UL aims to raise more than 800 billion yen ($8 billion) in debt to finance its purchase of U.S. spirits company Beam Inc, Japan's third-biggest outbound deal ever, people with knowledge of the deal said on Thursday.
The privately held beverage company is tapping a range of lenders to buy senior and subordinated loans in yen and dollars, as well as dollar bonds, to ensure longer-term funding of its recently completed $13.6 billion purchase of the maker of Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbons, the people said.
The fund-raising is to refinance the bulk of a $12.5 billion bridge loan, which was arranged and underwritten by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the people said. Including the assumption of Beam's net debt, Suntory's purchase is valued at $16 billion.
Moody's Japan K.K. last week downgraded the creditworthiness of Suntory's debt to Baa2 from A3, given the "high financial leverage from the acquisition," which has made the company the world's third-biggest spirits maker.
"It will take the company several years to bring leverage down to a level more appropriate for a higher rating," said Moody's credit analyst Mariko Semetko.
In addition to the U.S. bourbon brands, the purchase, announced in January, brings together Beam's Courvoisier cognac and Sauza tequila with Suntory's Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki and Kakubin whiskies, Bowmore Scotch and Midori liqueur.
Suntory last year floated its food and non-alcoholic drinks company, Suntory Beverage & Food (2587.T), to raise money for overseas acquisitions.
For its purchase of Beam, Suntory aims to sell 400 billion yen worth of senior loans and 300 billion yen of subordinated loans in the Japanese and U.S. currencies, and 100 billion yen worth of dollar bonds, the people said.
The company and its lenders are still discussing details, and the final figures could change, they said.
Japan's three "megabanks," including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (8306.T), as well as regional banks and life insurance companies are participating in the planned funding, the people said.
Of the subordinated loans, the state-run Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) is considering buying 200 billion yen worth, they said.
Suntory and JBIC spokeswomen declined to comment on the deal. Representatives of the lenders were not immediately available for comment.
Subordinated loans have a lower priority in terms of repayment if a borrower faces financial difficulties. As they are considered akin to equity, borrowers can count a portion of their subordinated loans as capital.
JBIC provides foreign-currency lending to Japanese companies for overseas acquisitions. The lender extended $1.5 billion in loans for air-conditioning and heating system maker Daikin Industries Ltd's (6367.T) $3.8 billion acquisition of Texas-based Goodman Global Inc HELLFG.UL in 2012.
For Japan's commercial banks, merger-and-acquisition finance is a bright spot as loan demand is recovering only tepidly at home and margins are being squeezed by competition.
Japanese companies have been on a buying spree as the economy has recovered under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. SoftBank Corp (9984.T) spent $21.6 billion to buy No.3 U.S. mobile operator Sprint Corp (S.N) last summer and wants to follow that up with an acquisition of No.4 T-Mobile US Inc TMUS.N.
(Editing by William Mallard)