The maker of classic American whiskeys Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark has agreed to be acquired by a Japanese company in a $13.62 billion deal that would create the third largest global premium spirits business.
Shares of Beam Inc. rose 24 percent on Monday after it said that it agreed to be purchased by Suntory Holdings Ltd., a Japanese beverage company. The combined company would have annual sales of more than $4.3 billion.
The deal follows other recent acquisitions in the alcohol industry, including Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $20.1 billion deal last year to buy the other half of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo that it didn’t already own.
It also comes at a time when the taste for bourbon — a type of American whisky that is made primarily of corn and typically distilled in Kentucky — continues to grow domestically and abroad.
In the U.S., sales volume for bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys such as Jack Daniels has grown 26 percent over the past decade, according to the Distilled Spirits Council, and industry group. Exports of U.S. whiskeys has grown to roughly $1 billion last year, more than double what it was a decade ago.
Demand is so robust that Beam last year even considered reducing the alcohol content for Maker’s Mark because of a supply shortage. The company scrapped the idea after a backlash by fans of the higher-end bourbon.
Suntory and Beam already had a relationship. Suntory distributes Beam products in Japan and has a portfolio of spirits with whiskies, including Yamazaki and Hakushu as well as Midori liqueur and other beverages. And Beam, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., distributes Suntory’s products in Singapore and other Asian markets.