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Suntory Says Asia Is ‘First Priority’ for Acquisitions

Suntory Holdings Ltd.’s food and beverages unit said Asia is its “first priority for M&A activities” as it seeks to boost growth outside Japan, where a shrinking and aging population damps demand.

“For overseas M&A targets, it will primarily be in regions that I personally, and the company, are familiar with,” Nobuhiro Torii, president of the Tokyo-based company’s soft-drinks division, told reporters today in Tokyo.

Torii also said he’s getting “a lot” of ideas from financial advisers about possible deals. Evian and Volvic bottler Danone SA has met with Suntory as well as Japanese rivals Kirin Holdings Co. and Asahi Breweries Ltd. to gauge their interest in its bottled water business, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time of the 2010 meetings.

“They have great brands in their water business with Evian and Volvic,” Torii said.

Paris-based Danone was seeking $5 billion to $7 billion for the entire water business in 2010, the people said at the time.

Suntory bought Frucor, Danone’s Australia and New Zealand drinks unit, in 2009. The two companies also had a water-cooler joint venture in the U.S. that ended in 2005.

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