The Japanese beverage group Suntory is reportedly close to a deal to buy soft drinks maker Orangina.It is currently owned by private equity groups Blackstone of the US and London-based Lion Capital. The price is likely to exceed the 1.85 billion euros they paid when they bought it from what was then Cadbury Schweppes in February 2006. Talks are said to be at a delicate stage with no guarantee a deal will be reached. Private equity buyers have had a hard time of late selling their investments because of the financial turmoil but analysts say that is now changing. Orangina, which gets most of its revenue from western Europe, has about 2,500 employees and sales last year totalled about one billion euros.