July 28, 2015 / 2:22 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Suntory Holdings says not considering IPO now

* IPO for holding company has always been option -sources

* IPO could come as early as 2018 - Nikkei

* Listing could be in Tokyo or New York - Nikkei (Updates throughout with comment from sources, details)

TOKYO, July 28 (Reuters) - Suntory Holdings Ltd said on Tuesday that it is not considering listing its shares now, following a Nikkei newspaper report that the beverages conglomerate is mulling an IPO as early as 2018 to pay down debt and raise growth capital.

The Nikkei said the Japanese company would decide as soon as this year whether to launch an initial public offering, which would likely value it around 3 trillion yen ($25 billion), and that it would consider listing in New York or Tokyo.

Suntory has ambitions of becoming a global leader in the beverage industry, most notably acquiring U.S. spirits maker Beam Inc in a $16 billion deal last year. It ranks 11th in the world for alcoholic beverages and eighth in soft drinks, according to Euromonitor.

But Suntory has also been divesting non-strategic businesses to raise cash, including a decision last week to sell cognac unit Louis Royer SAS to France’s Terroirs Distillers.

Suntory and banking sources said an IPO for the holding company had always been floated as an option to raise money - also needed to pay down the company’s interest-bearing debt of around 1.87 trillion yen ($15 billion).

Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd, the group’s soft-drink arm, went public in 2013.

“The company is running out of options for funding,” said a banking source familiar with Suntory’s thinking. “They don’t want to have to rely too much on banks every time they acquire a company, and they’re worried they don’t have the wherewithal to fund the next big move.”

The source added, however, that any IPO would be years away.

The Nikkei said relisting Beam in New York was also an option. It added that the founding Torii and Saji families would likely retain majority ownership of Suntory Holdings even after a listing. ($1 = 123.1500 yen) (Reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu, Emi Emoto and Chris Gallagher; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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