Diageo Says It Doesn’t Plan to Make Europe Political Donations

Diageo Plc, the world’s biggest distiller, said today that it didn’t intend to make political donations in Europe even as proxy shareholders voted ahead of its annual general meeting to allow political funding.

While the maker of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky and Smirnoff vodka asked to be allowed to make donations of as much as 200,000 pounds a year ($323,120) in countries in the European Union, it said such sums wouldn’t be for political causes.

“We have not, will not, and it’s not our intention to make any political contributions in Europe,” Chairman Franz Humer said today at the AGM in London. The distiller hasn’t made any contributions in the U.S. to the presidential campaign for any parties, he said, adding that any political spending in the U.S. was “indiscriminate of political affiliation” and intended to support its business interests in the country.

About 98 percent of proxy voters approved the motion ahead of the AGM today and 93 percent of proxy voters approved the remuneration report. London-based Diageo said that Chief Executive Officer Paul Walsh’s remuneration more than doubled in the year ended June 30 after he received shares under incentive plans.

Diageo today reported first-quarter sales that grew at a slower pace in Asia than analysts had estimated, dampening the effects of better-than-expected trading in Europe. Its shares declined 0.8 percent today.

Emerging Markets

Diageo’s seeking growth in emerging markets as economic growth in countries including China enable consumers to spend more cash on alcohol. It’s in talks to take a stake of about 20 percent in India’s United Spirits Ltd., two people with knowledge of the discussions said Oct. 16, aiming to tap further into high consumer demand for whiskeys in the country. The company declined to comment further on the talks, but said that its acquisition of Turkey’s Mey Icki raki business for about $2.1 billion last year was a good example of its mergers and acquisitions strategy.

“That’s a model we like,” CEO Walsh said today. ‘Buying good local brands with good routes to market. You can conclude that could be a strategy we could use in India.”

The company announced it was in discussions with United Spirits in a statement issued on Sept. 25.

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