• Jose Cuervo owners poised to put brand up for sale
  • Diageo looking to spend US$2bn
  • Bacardi, Pernod Ricard, Brown-Forman also linked

UK reports over the weekend have suggested that Diageo is mulling a US$2bn move to acquire full control of the Jose Cuervo Tequila brand.

A piece in yesterday's (20 March) Sunday Times claimed that Jose Cuervo's owners, the Beckmann family, are in discussions with Barclays to “explore a possible sale of all or part of the group”. No sources were disclosed in the story, however.

Diageo is expected to be the front-runner, seeing as it already handles the distribution of the Jose Cuervo portfolio outside of Mexico.

While the paper claimed that the likes of Bacardi, Pernod Ricard and Brown-Forman could provide competition for any such transaction, none of these three are well-placed to join a race: Bacardi holds a stake in ultra-premium Tequila brand Patron, Pernod is still operating a 'no acquisitions' strategy at present and Brown-Forman owns the Herradura and El Jimador Tequila brands.

The Sunday Times also suggested that the Beckmann's plans are “at an early stage”, and “may result in the sale of a minority stake or no deal at all”.

No-one was immediately available for comment at Diageo, whose distribution deal for Jose Cuervo runs until June 2013, when contacted by just-drinks today.