UPDATE 2-Sapporo to take stake in soft drinks maker

miércoles 12 de agosto de 2009 12:00 CEST

* Sapporo to take 22 percent stake in unlisted Pokka

* Deal could be worth $105 mln - source

* Japan's soft drinks market dominated by Coca-Cola

* Sapporo and Pokka expected to remain small players (Recasts with official announcement, adds comment)

By Taiga Uranaka

TOKYO, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Brewer Sapporo Holdings (2501.T: Cotización) said it would buy into unlisted beverage maker Pokka, as depressed beer sales force it to seek growth in a Japanese soft drinks market dominated by Coca-Cola (KO.N: Cotización).

Japanese drinks makers are banding together to both expand operations overseas and build scale at home.

Kirin Holdings (2503.T: Cotización) and Suntory Holdings have started merger talks that could create not only Japan's dominant beer company but also a soft drinks maker rivalling Coca-Cola's 30 percent market share.

"I expect the consolidation to continue in the beverage industry," said Tomonobu Tsunoyama, sector analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center. "There are too many players, and sales of green tea and bottled water, which had been growth drivers, have plateaued."   Continuación...