UK: Diageo should ditch Guinness for spirits - analyst

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Investec Securities analysts believe that Diageo would be better off selling Guinness and diving further into spirits, despite strong growth for the beer brand in Africa.

Diageo is already in a good position to make acquisitions, but it could arrive at the next round of spirits industry consolidation with an unrivalled warchest if it sells Guinness, Investec analysts said today (20 January). The drinks has faced intermittent speculation over the future of Guinness, but has always denied any intention to sell up.

Investec said in a note today: "It has a trophy asset in Guinness and its brewing business that we think can and should be disposed to fund an increased focus on spirits." The analysts did not specify a potential price tag or potential suitors for the Irish stout brand.

Despite Investec's assertion, a sale looks unlikely in the short-term at least. Guinness remains an integral part of Diageo's business in emerging markets across Africa, a region that group CEO Paul Walsh has described to just-drinks as "a jewel". 

In an interview with just-drinks, published today, Diageo's Africa president, Nick Blazquez, said that beer accounts for 75% of the company's business in the region. He added that "beer and spirits together is a winning combination in Africa".

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