The European Commission cleared on Tuesday a $16 billion bid by Japanese company Suntory for the US maker of Jim Beam bourbon whisky. The Commission said the deal, which will make Suntory the world's third-biggest liquour firm, would not have an adverse impact on the European market. The two companies have limited overlap and are "mainly complementary," it said. In addition, "a number of strong competing players would remain ... customers would therefore still have sufficient alternative suppliers," a statement said. Beam Inc. markets a range of bourbons and internationally known whiskies, having evolved from a small family base in Kentucky state. Suntory has embarked on an international expansion strategy, based on the Beam and other purchases, which some critics say are over-ambitious given its relatively small size, with annual sales of around $1.7 billion. The deal, announced in January, is the third-biggest overseas acquisition by a Japanese firm, after mobile carrier SoftBank's $21.6 billion takeover of US-based Sprint Nextel last year and Japan Tobacco's 2007 purchase of Britain's Gallaher for almost $19 billion. It also eclipses the value of previous Suntory acquisitions, including the $1.56 billion purchase of the Lucozade and Ribena soft drinks brands in September.