In early March, 2010，Diageo, the world’s leading spirits maker signed a deal whereby it acquires majority shares of SiChuan Quanxing Group, a holding company that owns Shui Jing Fang(水井坊), reputedly China’s oldest white wine. What is remarkable about the transaction is that it is the first case in which foreign capital takes over Chinese white wine. To further make the deal unique is how surreally the white whine came into being. In 1998, Quanxing Group discovered a relic site when its workers were in the process of renovating factories. Archeological excavation showed that the site was originally a wine making workshop that dates back to Yuan Dynasty, over 600 years ago. With state-of-art bio technology, several active microbes were obtained from the workshop and used to produce the white whine, branded Shui Jing Fang(水井坊). The relic site was also listed by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest wine making workshop.
On a rough look, the Diageo/Shui Jing Fang deal is remarkably similar to the Coca-Cola bid for Hui Yuan . For example, both involve world famous brands buying Chinese famous local brands, in effort to tap into the ever increasing beverage market in China. Given the doomed Coca Cola/Hui Yuan transaction on antitrust account, one is tempted to ask whether history will not repeat itself this time. Meanwhile, media report says Diageo is preparing regulatory filing with MOFCOM, which is the authority charged with policing merger market to prevent anticompetitive consequences. There are also market speculations on the fate of the deal in the hand of MOFCOM.
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