America's most famous whiskey labels going on the block

on 09/12/10 at 12:23 pm

Industry

Diageo wants to boost its scale in the crucial US marketplace

Smirnoff owner Diageo is casting its eye over some of America’s most famous whiskey labels as part of a possible £6bn bid for US drinks giant Fortune Brands.

The Chicago-based firm behind Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Southern Comfort put itself on the block yesterday by announcing plans for a break-up.

Industry sources said it was ‘reasonable to put Diageo in the frame as a potential bidder’.

Diageo boss Paul Walsh has made no secret that Maker’s Mark is a key brand he wants to acquire to boost scale in the crucial American market.

But Diageo, up 13p to 1158p, which solely owns Johnnie Walker whisky and a stake in Hennessey cognac through a joint venture with LVMH, would run into competition problems with a number of products.

Fortune owns the Courvoisier brand which is a direct rival to Hennessey and there are also conflicts in vodka and tequila.

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