Diageo tops up stake in Vietnam's Halico

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Drinks giant Diageo raised its stake in Vietnam's biggest spirits company Halico to 45.5 percent on Friday as part of the group's strategy to increase its sales in fast-growing emerging markets.

The London-based Smirnoff vodka and Captain Morgan maker said it had spent around 14 million pounds ($21.8 million) acquiring a 10.6 percent stake through a public offering as it looks to tap into the rapid growth of the Vietnamese branded spirits sector.

The world's biggest spirits company is being attracted to Vietnam by the nation's growing population, its emerging middle class and Halico's strong position in local premium spirits led by its main Vodka Hanoi.

Halico - or Hanoi Liquor Joint Stock Company - was founded in 1898 and is still controlled 54 percent by the state-owned Hanoi Beverage Company. Diageo has acquired its stake through a number of purchases since January 2011 through public offers and from private equity group VinaCapital.

Diageo's Chief Executive Paul Walsh is aiming to get 50 percent of the group's sales from emerging markets by 2015, from around 40 percent currently, and has recently made acquisitions in China, Turkey, Ethiopia and Brazil to help it to that target.

It is also looking to buy or take a stake in the world's number one Mexican tequila Jose Cuervo and sources close to the situation say it hopes to complete a deal by July with the brand's owning Beckmann family.

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