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Suntory in talks over Kirin merger

Family-owned Japanese brewing company Suntory Holdings Ltd has announced it is in merger talks with rival brewer Kirin Holdings Co.
The move would allow the two companies, who both enjoy domestic success, to expand to a greater international market. If the merger goes ahead the new company is expected to produce sales of $41 billion and provide competition to the brewing might of businesses such as Anheuser-Busch InBev, which was formed when the Busch family sold up last year.
A statement released by Suntory said the merger is likely to be conducted in two stages and a final announcement could be made late this year or early in 2010. It went on to add that Suntory intends to retain its trading name.
Japanese press reports state the companies will meet with the country's fair trade commission next week to iron out problems with antimonopoly laws as the new company would enjoy a domestic market share of 50% for beer and up to 80% for whisky.

Suntory was the first company to brew whisky in Japan in 1923 and has enjoyed a strong market share ever since. Founded in 1899 by Shinjiro Torii, Suntory is still 90% owned by the founding family and currently run by Torii's grandson Nobutada Saji. Suntory Holdings Ltd had 2008 sales of $16 billion and Saji has a personal fortune of $3.5 billion.
Kirin is a listed holdings company with investments in brewing, soft drinks, food and pharmaceuticals. Revenues recorded in January 2009 were $23 billion.

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