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Suntory to Buy Hinckley & Schmitt for $290 Million

January 9, 1996

NEW YORK (AP) _ Suntory International Corp. on Tuesday announced a $290 million deal to buy Hinckley & Schmitt Bottled Water Group, a 107-year-old business currently owned by France’s Anjou International Co.

Suntory, the U.S. subsidiary of Suntory Ltd. of Japan, said the acquisition will lift it to second place from fifth among U.S. bottled water producers and help its expansion in such fast-growing Sun Belt markets as Texas, Arizona and California.

Chicago-based Hinckley & Schmitt is the third-largest U.S. bottled water company with annual sales of more than $175 million, according to Suntory.

The leader in the U.S. bottled water market is Perrier Group, whose brands including Poland Springs.

Toshihiko Tamari, president of Suntory International, said the U.S. bottled water market is expected to grow to $5 billion by the year 2000 from about $3 billion in 1994.

Hinckley & Schmitt, founded in 1888, produces and distributes water in 22 states and Canada. It also markets filtration units for homes and offices.

It was acquired in 1981 by Anjou International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Compagnie Generale des Eaux, one of France’s largest publicly traded utilities.

Suntory said Hinckley & Schmitt’s company and brand names and its management structure will remain the same although Suntory will be responsible for managing the business.

The deal will give Hinckley & Schmitt ``opportunities to strengthen our businesses and enable us to continue to grow as a part of Suntory’s nationwide operations,″ said George J. Schmitt, H&S president and chief executive.

Suntory International, which is based in New York, also oversees a soft drink bottling operation, a winery, restaurants and an export division.

It entered the bottled water business in 1985, and its Atlanta-based Suntory Water Group has had double-digit growth during the past four years.

Hinckley & Schmitt will operate autonomously from Suntory Water Group, whose water brands include Belmont Springs, Crystal Springs, Kentwood and Polar.

Suntory International has annual sales of $465 million in the U.S. and employs approximately 3,000 people.

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