S KOREA: Diageo soju purchase talk wide of mark
Diageo is not actively looking for acquisitions in the South Korean soju market, contrary to local reports, just-drinks understands.
Reports from South Korea last week claimed the drinks giant is interested in buying a soju producer in the country. When contacted by just-drinks today (19 May), a spokesperson for Diageo declined to comment on the reports. "It is not company policy to comment on media speculation," the spokesperson said.
A separate source familiar with the matter, however, has told just-drinks that the reports are wide of the mark. "Although Diageo considers every possible acquisition opportunity, in this instance, the media reports are incorrect," the source said.
Reports out of South Korea had claimed Diageo's CEO, Paul Walsh, was in Asia earlier this month. Walsh was quoted as saying that the company's Korean unit was considering a possible purchase in the soju sector.
Diageo has had a troubled time of late in South Korea. In February, the company finally secured a new import licence for the country, after it was stripped of its licence in June last year. Diageo was punished for using unlicensed wholesalers in the country, a move that company CEO Paul Walsh admitted earlier this year had been "a mistake". "We may think everyone (sells to unlicensed distributors), but the fact is, we got caught and we have to take our medicine," he said.
The company transitioned the business in March from Sooseok, who has acted as independent third party distributor for its brands since the end of July last year.
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