Hite-Jinro "open" to Diageo talks

16 July, 2013

Hite-Jinro would consider selling a share of its business to Diageo, according to the South Korean group’s co-president.

The company’s Jinro soju is the world’s largest brand, selling 65.3 million cases in 2012.

Co-President Yang Yin Jip, also CEO of Hite-Jinro Japan, today told Drinks International he would be open to talks with Diageo and that investment from the group could be beneficial to both parties.

“I’m actually surprised they have not contacted me,” Yang Yin Jip quipped. “While my job security would be shaken – I don’t know why the people from Diageo have not contacted Jinro.”

“It could be a consideration for both Diageo and Jinro to talk about it - business is business.”

The Hite-Jinro co-president also declared his ten-year target was annual sales of 100 million 9-litre cases and said Diageo could help achieve the aim.

 “Some investment from Diageo could mean we accelerate sales volume,” he said. “With their power in other countries Diageo could be a great partner.”

Yang Yin Jip also highlighted Hite-Jinro’s presence in Japan, its largest export market. “Hite-Jinro’s Japanese subsidiary is the only foreign sales company whose volumes are in the top ten list [of alcoholic drinks companies] – none of Diageo, Heineken or Budweiser are in the top ten list.”

In recent years Diageo has bought out Turkish raki brand Mey Içki, Brazilian cachaça Ypióca Group, Chinese baijiu Shui Jing Fang and this month took control of Untied Spirits, now holding 25% of the Indian company.

The reason for these acquisitions is widely perceived to be the brands’ extensive domestic distribution networks.

Jinro acounts for around half of the soju consumed in South Korea, which is around 40 million cases

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