‘No Threat’ to US Jobs as Japan’s Suntory Co. Buys Bourbon Maker

By ABC News

Jan 14, 2014 7:21pm
GTY bourbon jtm 140114 16x9 608 No Threat to US Jobs as Japans Suntory Co. Buys Bourbon Maker

Bottles of Jim Beam Bourbon make their way down a conveyor belt inside the bottling plant at the Jim Beam Bourbon Distillery in Clermont, Ky., Jan. 13, 2014. (Credit: Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

It’s the quintessential “Made in America” product: Kentucky bourbon.

And no brands are more famous than Maker’s Mark and Jim Beam, made by Beam Inc., a company almost as old as the United States itself. The company was established in 1775.

The men and women who make the liquor are now trying to understand what it will mean to work for Suntory, the Japanese company made famous in the 2003 movie “Lost in Translation.”

On Monday, Suntory said that it would buy Beam for $13.62 billion.

But don’t cry for Kentucky. This deal could actually mean more U.S jobs, not fewer. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said he welcomed the deal.

“They’ve [Suntory] indicated there will be no threat to local jobs. As a matter of fact, Beam is growing quite a bit, especially the bourbon segment,” Fischer said.

There is currently a bourbon boom. Production is up more than 120 percent since 1999. Thanks to exports, no market is more promising than Asia.

Fred Noe of Beam Inc. told ABC News that growing exports means jobs.

“It’s jobs for all these people,” he said. “We’re selling American products around the world, which is great.”

Even before the deal, Beam was aggressively marketing Asia.

Now Beam will be Japan’s biggest beverage company — one with the plans and the know-how to sell more bourbon in Asia.

And it’s bourbon made in Kentucky by American workers.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl contributed to this story.

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