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January 13, 2014 5:28 pm
The third generation to run the family drinks business, Nobutada Saji can draw on much distilled wisdom concerning the whisky trade.
The 68-year-old whisky baron took the helm of Japan’s fourth-largest brewer in 2001, overseeing a beverage empire that includes Yamazaki Japanese whisky, Bowmore Scotch and Midori liqueur.
He has steadily overseen its aggressive expansion overseas to hedge against a shrinking domestic market, engineering the acquisition of France’s Orangina Schweppes, New Zealand’s Frucor Beverages in 2009, and the Lucozade and Ribena brands in 2013.
Inspired by Suntory’s motto of “Yatte Minahare – Go for it!”, Mr Saji came closer to realising his ambition of becoming a top player on the global drinks stage after Suntory, which is privately held, listed its non-alcoholic drinks and food business on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The IPO raised almost $4bn, providing Mr Saji with the cash to ramp up his acquisition drive and placed him as Japan’s second-richest man in 2013 with assets of about $10.7bn, according to business magazine Forbes.
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