Starbucks to Buy Out Partner in Japanese Venture for $913 Million

(The Seattle Times/MCT) —

Starbucks said Tuesday it will buy out its partner in Japan for $913 million, taking over complete control of operations in its second-largest market by store sales.

The move comes as the Seattle coffee giant increasingly banks on international growth. Starbucks said the purchase will help it grow in Japan and introduce new products through various channels, such as its tea brand, Teavana.

Starbucks will acquire the 60.5 percent it doesn’t own in its Japanese joint venture from Sazaby League, a retail company based in Tokyo, in a two-part process.

Starbucks will first buy a 39.5 percent stake for $505 million, gaining control of the joint venture before the end of the year. The remaining 21.5 percent will change hands next year for $408.5 million. The deal took place after Sazaby told Starbucks it wanted to cash out of the business.

The transaction won’t change Starbucks’ financial targets for 2014, the company said.

The joint venture, dubbed Starbucks Japan, was founded in 1995, and operates more than 1,000 stores. It employs more than 25,000 people.

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