FB News

Suntory set to appoint first non-family chairman

By Michael Finnigan

Century-old Japanese drinks maker Suntory Holdings, owned by the Saji family, will reportedly appoint its first non-family chief executive for four generations later this year. 

According to media reports, fourth-generation chief executive Nobutada Saji, 68, will step down in October to make way for Takeshi Niinami, the current chairman of convenience store operator Lawson.

Saji will remain chairman of the family business, which was founded in 1899 in Osaka, and in 2012 had revenues of €13 billion. 

The news hits less than two months after Suntory completed its acquisition of Beam Inc, the US whisky business famous for Jim Beam bourbon. At $16 billion (€11.7bn) the deal was the company’s largest ever overseas acquisition. 

Niinami, 55, brings with him 12 years at Lawson, as well as a hefty contact book, including prime minster Shinzo Abe and members of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid committee.

No official announcement has been posted by either company, but Saji told reporters that he had approached Niinami about the role last year. According to Reuters, the appointment is set to be confirmed at a board meeting on 1 July.