Diageo celebrates China visit with controlling stake in top baijiu spirit brand Shuijingfang

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has been winning golden opinions among the UK business community by making the right noises about trade deals and saying that he doesn’t regard the Eurozone as a complete basket case (and hinting that he might spend some of China’s vast trade surplus on buying its less appealing government bonds).

So it can hardly be a coincidence that UK drinks giant Diageo has announced today that it is buy a further four per cent stake in Quanxing Group which makes leading baijiu white spirit brand Shuijingfang. This gives Diageo 53 per cent of the major Chinese drinks producer.

The deal is significant as Western companies have been moaning for ages that the Chinese government made life for hard for them when it came to taking over Chinese companies (unlike the traffic the other way, in Europe anyway).

And it’s a coup for Diageo CEO Paul Walsh who has steered a steady course through the recession.

Whether or not it means the floodgates will open for Western consumer products companies in China is open to debate. But those marcoms companies like WPP and Publicis Groupe which have been snapping up Chinese companies themselves will be hoping it does.

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