GUINNESS BUYS 51 PERCENT OF JAMAICAN BREWER FOR $62 MILLION

GUINNESS BUYS 51 PERCENT OF JAMAICAN BREWER FOR $62 MILLION

A major British liquor company bought controlling interest in Jamaica's lone brewer, saying it intends to increase sales in the U.S. market.

Guinness PLC paid US$62 million for 51 percent of Desnoes & Geddes (D&G), a 75-year-old company and one of the largest businesses on the Caribbean island.Jamaican officials and business leaders say it is the single largest investment in the country since major U.S. metal companies invested in bauxite mines and refineries in the 1960s.

"We intend to increase sales of D&G's products, particularly its Red Stripe lager beer, in the U.S. market where it has been doing well," said John Hearnden, managing director of Guinness Brewing Worldwide's African and American operations.

"We will also be expanding the markets the company has in other parts of North America and in Europe."

Guinness Brewing Worldwide, a subsidiary of Guinness PLC, negotiated the agreement with the owners of D&G.

The Jamaican government has progressively deregulated the economy, including lifting controls on foreign currency moving into and out of the country.

In addition to beer and stout, D&G produces soft drinks, and has franchises for a range of other bottled drinks for U.S. and European companies. It has been the distributor of Guinness products in Jamaica.