Suntory Holdings today confirmed that its approach to acquire Orangina Schweppes Group from Lion Capital and The Blackstone Group is a binding offer.

As reported in just-drinks yesterday (23 September), sources close to the situation have cited the transaction to be in the region of EUR2.6bn (US$3.8bn). The two companies acquired Orangina Schweppes from what is now Cadbury in early 2006 for EUR1.85bn.

In a statement released earlier today, Suntory said it expects Lion Capital and Blackstone to take a decision in response to its offer once the necessary social, legal and regulatory steps have been completed.

However, a report by the news agency Dow Jones has reported that the two parties will sign a contract by around mid-October, with Suntory expecting to conclude the transaction process, including government approval, by as late as early November.

Suntory has already developed its alcoholic beverages business in Europe through the acquisition of  European distilleries and wineries, such as Château Lagrange, a Grand Cru Bordeaux, Louis Royer, one of France's most prestigious cognac distilleries, and Morrison Bowmore, a Scottish whiskey distiller.

In its statement, the Japanese group explained: "The proposed acquisition of Orangina Schweppes is expected to provide Suntory with a solid platform in Europe in the soft drinks business, and would be a further step in Suntory's global expansion strategy. It aims to maximize synergies with Suntory's existing non-alcoholic beverage and food businesses Frucor Group in Australasia, Cerebos Pacific in South East Asia, Tipco F&B, a JV in Thailand and the strong domestic platform in Japan."