Diageo adds Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation American Gin with deal valued at up to $610 million

Diageo PLC said Monday that it has acquired Davos Brands LLC and Aviation American Gin LLC for a total consideration of $610 million.

The deal includes an initial payment of $335 million and potential for up to $275 million additional based on Aviation’s performance over the next decade. It will be funded through existing cash and is expected to close before the end of 2020.

“Deadpool” actor Ryan Reynolds is one of the owners of Aviation American Gin; he’ll retain a stake in the brand. Based in New York, other brands in the Davos lineup include Astral Tequila and TYKU Sake.

Aviation is the second-largest “super premium” gin brand in the U.S., according to Diageo


. “Super premium” gin grew at a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% between 2014 and 2019.

See:Millennials’ shifting tastes are boosting sales of whiskey and tequila

“We’re so excited for the next chapter of Aviation Gin, which, I promise, will require just as little reading.”

— Aviation Gin Co-Owner Ryan Reynolds

Gin overall generated $918 million in 2019 revenue, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Diageo’s other brands include Johnnie Walker whiskey, Ciroc vodka and Captain Morgan spiced rum. Its beer brands include Harp and Guinness.

Diageo reported an 8.7% net sales decline to £11.75 billion for fiscal 2020 on August 4, missing the FactSet consensus for £11.86 billion.

“Fiscal ‘20 was a year of two halves: after good, consistent performance in the first half of fiscal ‘20, the outbreak of COVID-19 presented significant challenges for our business, impacting the full year performance,” said Diageo Chief Executive Ivan Menezes in an earnings statement.

Diageo stock has slumped 18.2% for the year to date, though the U.S.-listed shares were up 1.7% in morning trading Monday.

Also:How the pandemic is upending business in the wine country

The S&P 500 index

is up 4.8% for 2020 so far.

UBS analysts said in an Aug. 10 note that the headwinds Diageo faces are “transitory” and expects the company’s exposure to the “resilient” U.S. spirits market will be a boon. UBS rates Diageo stock buy.

JPMorgan is more pessimistic, rating Diageo stock underweight in an August 4 note.

“Given the overall uncertainty (especially for on-trade sell-in), visibility on the FY21 recovery is not assured and we believe that Diageo has less scope for cost cutting versus peers given the strong execution in the last five years,” analysts said.

Davos Brands was founded in 2014, and Reynolds became an owner two years ago.

Ryan Reynolds joins celebrity names like George Clooney who have launched a spirit brand. Clooney’s Casamigos tequila was also bought by Diageo in a 2017 deal that put that brand’s value at up to $1 billion.

“We’re so excited for the next chapter of Aviation Gin, which, I promise, will require just as little reading,” Reynolds said in a statement.

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