Comment - Wehring's Way: Diageo and Speculationzzz...
You'll have seen, I'm sure, the wave upon wave of Diageo-related speculation in recent months regarding the company's relationships with both the owners of Jose Cuervo Tequila and India's United Spirits.
The names behind the brands are the Beckmann family in Mexico and Vijay Mallya, the so-called 'Branson of Bangalore'.
The Beckmanns, led by Juan-Domingo Beckmann, have until June next year - when the distribution tie-up is set to end - to decide what they want to do with Diageo. The UK-based drinks giant wants to secure a revised agreement between to the two over the Cuervo brand, which, according to CEO Paul Walsh, doesn't make enough money for Diageo in its current position in the stable.
In India, meanwhile, Dr Mallya, who also heads up the troubled Kingfisher Airlines through parent company The UB Group, is mulling a partnership with Diageo, which could see the spirits giant exploit United Spirits' domination of alcohol distribution in the emerging market. Previous talks between the two broke down three years ago due to a disagreement over value. Discussions between the two sides have re-started, however, with Mallya's UB Group in a weaker bargaining position than before due to Kingfisher's travails and Diageo focussing its efforts on upping its own distribution footprint in the country.
The two situations are different in many ways – brand v distribution, existing deal v new tie-up – but they have one very prevalent strand in common.
In neither case is Diageo dealing with a leadership body charged primarily in providing the best return for its shareholders. In Mexico, the Beckmann's are battling with the quandary of what a new deal does to the family legacy. Meanwhile, in India, Mallya wants to eke out the most he possibly can in order to keep the good ship UB afloat while not diluting control by too great an extent.
The speculation you have been enjoying/enduring in recent months has so far come to naught. While both matters will probably be settled in Diageo's favour sooner rather than later, be warned that the announcements will not be preceded by rumour or counter-rumour.
'Twas ever thus when dealing with people rather than PLCs.
Heineken last week announced plans to build a 1.5m-litre capacity brewery in Ethiopia, which, with the second-largest population in Africa, is a major focus for international brewers....
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