FRANCE: Pernod Ricard chairman answers Seagram staff queries online
In an unprecedented gesture of openness, Ricard claims to tackle some of the issues and concerns which have fuelled the media speculation surrounding the French group's intentions. Crucially, however, on the question of how he intends to inform staff of changes in the future, he does not give any specifics while the shadow of regulatory approval hangs over the deal.
In the e-newsletter, he writes: "We recognise that Seagram employees are currently facing a period of uncertainty. However, until we receive regulatory approval, we are unable to provide information relating to future jobs. In the interim, we will try to communicate as much information as possible and we will keep our website updated."
He then, however, said that the organisation was "excited about bringing our activities together" and working with Seagram staff in the future.
The decision to offer this 'right to reply' seems to lie in the continuing speculation and rumour that surrounds the deal, propagated by the press. The letter begins: "A lot has been written over the past few months about our acquisition of part of Seagram's activity, and for good reason…the merger is going to propel Pernod Ricard from 5th to 3rd place in the world's alcoholic beverages sector."
Asked whether staff will be expected to speak French, the letter explained that "two-thirds of existing staff are located outside of France and do not speak French" so English would suffice.
As Pernod Ricard's critical mass will be greatly enlarged by this merger, the company intends to expand its sales force by 15% and will be "recruiting from Seagram staff."
The letter continues: "Recruitment will not only be limited to sales, we are looking for talented Seagram employees from all disciplines to join our business. Throughout our negotiations, we have been impressed by the high level of professionalism displayed by all Seagram staff."
Ricard also committed the company to retaining much of Seagram's US and Asian operations, in particular emphasising the need to keep the Seagram's Extra Dry Gin distillery in Indiana. He said of Seagram's business in Brazil and India, "we shall take over the entire operation and staff."
A Seagram spokesperson told just-drinks.com that Pernod Ricard had informed Seagram and Diageo that the newsletter would be published. "We naturally support any information either Pernod Ricard and Diageo can provide at this time. The bottomline, however, is that Seagram management has made a real effort to introduce its own process of communication with staff which does rely on face-to-face meetings and answering our staff's questions there and then. As staff are extremely sensitive to what they read and hear, we have devised a system whereby information is accessible to everyone at the same time. Obviously we respect Pernod Ricard's approach - this newsletter has just created an additional communication process."
On a separate issue, Seagram clarified that the court battle involving Diageo and Allied Domecq over the distribution rights of Captain Morgan rum would not delay or affect the eventual merger's regulatory approval.
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