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News Briefs for February 5, 2013

February 5, 2013

•Diageo has received an observation letter from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) regarding its $2.1 billion plan to acquire a majority stake in United Spirits Ltd. (USL). Diageo told Shanken News Daily it’s currently considering SEBI’s comments, which are part of the standard approval process, but declined to provide further detail. Diageo’s open offer for majority control of USL was originally planned to proceed last month, but was delayed as SEBI and other regulators scrutinized the proposed deal.

•Pernod Ricard’s Martell & Co. subsidiary is currently in talks to acquire Cognac producer Le Maine au Bois SAS. Financial details on the negotiations were undisclosed. Owned by Pierre-Hubert Lassalle, Le Maine au Bois is involved in the distillation, storage and trade of eaux-de-vie in the Cognac AOC. Martell, meanwhile, is the third-largest Cognac brand in the world, at around 2 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Rémy Cointreau, owner of Martell competitor Rémy Martin, recently snapped up a smaller Cognac house as well, sealing the deal for family producer Larsen Cognac in mid-December. Both Rémy and Pernod may be looking to bolster Cognac supply as the category continues to surge in Asia, putting pressure on stocks of higher-end Cognacs for other global markets.

•Moët Hennessy’s Veuve Clicquot Champagne has partnered with Michelin-starred chef Joël Robuchon on a new culinary initiative. Starting this month, Robuchon will pair Veuve Clicquot wines with food at his restaurants across the globe, including L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, which has locations in Las Vegas, Paris, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. Additionally, the pairings will be offered at Veuve Clicquot’s Hôtel du Marc property in Paris, where Robuchon will host several dinners for VIP guests. The world’s second-largest largest Champagne brand (after portfoliomate Moët & Chandon), Veuve Clicquot sells 1.34 million cases globally, with annual volume of around 365,000 cases in the U.S.

•Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Brothers unit is slated to begin construction on Beefeater London—The Home of Gin, a new visitor center at the historic Beefeater gin distillery in Kennington. The project, which involves construction of a new 6,500-square-foot, two-story space, is expected to open to the public later this year. Beefeater London—The Home of Gin will feature a series of interactive showcases, allowing guests to touch and smell the botanicals used in Beefeater and Beefeater 24 and witness part of the production process at the distillery’s still house. The visitor center follows the launch of a new global marketing campaign for Beefeater, which aims to emphasize the brand’s provenance with the tagline “This Is My London.”

•Metairie, Louisiana-based Southern Eagle Sales & Service is set to buy Glazer’s beer portfolio in the New Orleans area market, reports Nola.com. Financial details weren’t disclosed. Among the brands Glazer’s distributes in the Big Easy are Shiner, Rogue, North Coast and Ommegang. Southern Eagle’s portfolio already includes Budweiser, Michelob, Corona, Busch, Stella and Beck’s, among other brews.

Absolut has unveiled its 2013 Absolut Blank limited edition bottle, featuring designs by artist Dave Kinsey. It will roll out in March. The bottle includes a flower with an “explosion of bright colors and darker-hued washes that reveal Kinsey’s roots as a street artist,” exploring the connection between the emotional and the environmental. The Absolut Blank series began in 2011 in collaboration with 20 artists around the world, including Kinsey, Fernando Chamarelli, Good Wives & Warriors, Jeremy Fish, UVA and Zac Freeman, among others, in which the artists were given blank bottle-shaped canvases to fill in their own style. Kinsey’s art for the series was previously featured in ads across print, outdoor and television.

•Chef José Andrés and his Think Food Group have announced plans to open a “culinary cocktail lab” in a space adjoining his acclaimed Washington, D.C. restaurant Minibar on February 15. The new concept, called Barmini, will offer an extensive menu of 100 cocktails ($14-$20) organized by base spirit and featuring avant-garde techniques and ingredients to mirror Minibar’s molecular gastronomy approach. Think Food Group’s beverage director, Juan Coronado, will manage Barmini and will also use the space as a cocktail lab to develop beverage programs for the company’s other restaurants. Guests at the 23-seat Barmini will also be able to enjoy bar snacks ($5-$16) from Minibar’s kitchen. Like Minibar, Barmini will operate under a reservations-only system.


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