Starbucks Takes Full Control of Japanese Subsidiary for $914M

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Starbucks (SBUX) took a step to expand its global presence by announcing late Tuesday that it will acquire the remaining 60.5% stake it does not already own in its Japanese subsidiary Starbucks Coffee Japan for about $913.5 million in cash.

The target is a joint venture between Starbucks and Japan's Sazaby League Ltd. that began in 1995 and operates more than 1,000 Starbucks stores in Japan with about 25,000 employees.

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Seattle-based Starbucks is structuring the acquisition through a two-step tender offer. The first part of the tender offer is set to begin on Sept. 26 with Starbucks acquiring Sazaby's 39.5% stake for about $505 million which will increase Starbucks' stake in the target up to 79%.

In the second step of the tender offer, Starbucks will acquire the remaining 21% stake in the target from public shareholders for about $408.5 million.

Starbucks said it expects the acquisition to immediately add to its earnings.

The entire purchase has already been approved by the Starbucks and Sazaby boards along with Starbucks Coffee Japan. Starbucks said it expects to complete the acquisition sometime in the 2015 first half.

Sazaby approached Starbucks earlier this year about Sazaby selling its stake and exiting its share in the business, Starbucks said in a statement.

The acquisition will give Starbucks an opportunity to expand in Japan and roll out new products such as Teavana tea. Starbucks acquired Teavana Holdings Inc. in November 2012 for about $620 million. Starbucks' Asia division has experienced revenue growth despite global economic challenges that have pressured the region. For the quarter ended June 29, the division generated $287.6 million in revenue compared to $233.7 million in revenue for the same time period one year ago.

"Full ownership of Starbucks Japan enables us to build on the amazing foundation of customer trust and loyalty our partners have achieved by continuing to take our people," Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz said in a statement.

After completion, Starbucks said Japan will be its second-largest market by revenue.

Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Nicole Miller Regan said she liked the move for Starbucks. "We look for this acquisition to build upon the company's already strong heritage within the coffee and tea category and support the longer-term opportunity to build the company's channel development business," Regan wrote in a Wednesday research note.

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