Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Whiskey maker Suntory sells $500m  bond in rare Japan deal

Whiskey maker Suntory sells $500m  bond in rare Japan deal
Japanese companies have tended to issue debt in overseas currencies when investing in assets or buying firms abroad. (Photo: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg)

Suntory Holdings has priced a $500-million bond, making the manufacturer of well-regarded whiskeys one of only a few non-financial Japanese companies to tap the US currency debt market this year.

Proceeds from the Jim Beam owner’s five-year note will be used for general corporate purposes including debt repayment, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified. Suntory has a $500-million note maturing in October.

Japanese companies have tended to issue debt in overseas currencies when investing in assets or buying firms abroad. Examples in recent years include Seven & i Holdings Co. and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. 

But the yen’s plunge to its weakest against the dollar since 1990 has dragged down Japanese sales of bonds overseas this year because of surging borrowing costs in home-currency terms. Dollar-bond issuance as of Tuesday was down nearly a third this year to $22.2-billion, the slowest annual start in four years according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

That’s in stark contrast to US and European primary markets, where sales have jumped as investors seek elevated yields before central banks start cutting interest rates. 

Also read: Suntory Rebrands Unit as It Goes Global With Canned Cocktails

Suntory is seeking to expand abroad as Japan’s population declines. The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the firm was in talks to buy Boston Beer Co., the US brewer behind the Samuel Adams brand. Suntory denied the report.

Suntory’s premium Japanese whiskey supplier said in November that output could increase in 2027 as it boosts its capacity to meet growing global demand.

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