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December 10, 2009

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Suntory buys 70% of ASC

JAPAN'S Suntory Group has agreed to buy a 70-percent share in Shanghai-based ASC Fine Wines Holding Ltd, a major importer and distributor of foreign wines in China, the firms said yesterday.

Don St Pierre Jr, son of the founder of ASC, will keep a "significant amount" of equity in the company and stay on as CEO along with other senior management, ASC said without providing any further details or financial figures.

Suntory has been expanding in China and other markets, recently making a binding offer to buy European drink maker Orangina from private equity firms Blackstone and Lion Capital.

The Japanese brewer will purchase shares in ASC from Wine Holding GmbH, an Austrian holding company, ASC said, explaining that long-time China entrepreneur Don St Pierre Sr intends to retire once the transaction is complete.

"It is the right time for ASC to forge the partnership with a new investor," the company said in a statement.

The deal with ASC calls for Tokyo-based Kokubu & Co, Japan's biggest wholesale food distributor, to take a 10-percent stake in the firm, which imports wines from 15 countries, including France, Spain and Australia.


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