Diageo says it wants more tequila, aguardiente

LONDON Thu May 15, 2014 10:25am EDT

LONDON May 15 (Reuters) - Diageo would be interested in buying good brands of Mexican tequila or Colombian aguardiente if any were available, a senior executive said on Thursday, as the world's largest spirits maker continues to expand its portfolio.

The maker of Johnnie Walker scotch and Smirnoff vodka has a long track record of buying local spirits brands as a way to build scale and distribution in emerging markets. It bought Ypioca cachaca in Brazil, Mey Icki raki in Turkey and most recently, launched a bid to nearly double its stake in India's United Spirits.

In January, it announced deals for the Peligroso and DeLeon tequila brands, but said on Thursday it was on the lookout for more.

Also attractive is Colombian aguardiente, a clear spirit, though most of the brands are controlled by the government, said Alberto Gavazzi, president of Diageo Latin America and Caribbean.

"If it ever becomes available and it does two things for us ... we would be interested," Gavazzi said on a conference call with analysts.

Any opportunity would have to "provide a much more solid route to consumer in Colombia and/or offer brands that we can expand and generate more equity, not only in Colombia but internationally".

(Reporting by Martinne Geller in London; editing by Keiron Henderson)