Suntory Makes Offer For Drink Maker Orangina

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's Suntory Holdings has made a binding offer to buy European drink maker Orangina from private equity firms Blackstone and Lion Capital, the equity firms said Wednesday.

Blackstone Group of the U.S. and London-based Lion Capital LLP said in a joint press release that they will now evaluate the proposal, without setting a time table or revealing the size of the offer.

Japanese news reports have said a deal worth about 250 billion yen ($2.7 billion) could come this month.

Suntory representatives could not be reached for comment in Tokyo on Wednesday, a Japanese national holiday.

Orangina was acquired in 2006 by Blackstone and Lion Capital as part of a 1.85 billion euro deal -- worth $2.19 billion at that time -- for Cadbury Schweppes PLC's European soft drink business.

The Japanese brewer Suntory is already in negotiations to merge with main domestic rival Kirin Holdings Co., which would create one of the world's largest food and drink companies.

Suntory is looking to acquire Orangina -- bottler and distributor of its namesake orange drink -- in part to strengthen its bargaining position with Kirin, according to Japanese media reports.

With the local market largely saturated, Japanese drink makers are looking to expand overseas. Earlier this year, Kirin said it was taking control of Australian brewer Lion Nathan Ltd., and bought nearly half of San Miguel Brewery Inc. of the Philippines.

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