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Chinese buy-in to Diageo

Published:  22 July, 2009

The state-owned China Investment Corp has bought a stake worth £221 million in Diageo, the world's biggest drinks company.

Speculation in financial markets suggests that CIC has its long-term eye on Guinness, the stout brand that has often been mooted as a possible sell-off target for Diageo in recent times, to allow it to focus on its global spirits brands.

The Financial Times reported that the 1.1% stake acquired by CIC made it the ninth single biggest Diageo shareholder.

CIC has previously focused on financial investments with substantial stakes in US firms Morgan Stanley and Blackstone, but has been forced to look further afield after the collapse of international finance markets.

CIC is also thought to own a 0.5% stake in Tesco.

Diageo is on a distribution drive across China, which it sees as a market to rival the US in the next decade or so.