George Clooney Makes More on Tequila Than on Movies as Casamigos Sells to Diageo

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If you think the appetite to acquire niche brands in beer, wine and alcohol is over, guess again. Diageo PLC (NYSE: DEO) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the premium tequila brand Casamigos. What is amazing here is the price tag — up to $1 billion! Equally amazing is the notion that actor George Clooney is also one of the backers and owners of the Casamigos brand.

While the percentage of ownership and the payouts were not publicly disclosed, it seems as though Clooney just made more money off his designer tequila brand than he makes on his movies.

Diageo’s press release shows that the “up to $1 billion” valuation is based on an initial consideration of $700 million. A further potential of up to $300 million is based on a performance linked earn-out over 10 years. Casamigos was created in 2013 by founders Clooney, Rande Gerber and Mike Meldman.

Casamigos was shown to have reached sales of 120,000 cases in 2016 and Diageo’s press release confirmed that the brand is on track to reach over 170,000 cases by the end of 2017. The transaction is currently expected to close in the second half of 2017, and Diageo expects the transaction will be neutral to its earnings per share for the first three years and accretive thereafter.

Casamigos will join the other Diageo brands of Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Buchanan’s and Windsor whiskies; Smirnoff, Ciroc and Ketel One vodkas; Captain Morgan; Baileys; Don Julio; Tanqueray and Guinness.

U.K.-based Diageo’s total revenue, in dollars, was $14 billion for its fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. Its American depositary shares traded in New York have a market value of $75 billion, and the $121.99 share price compares with a 52-week range of $99.46 to $123.48.

According to a 2016 CNBC piece, Casamigos was almost an accident and shows that Clooney and his friends used a distiller in Jalisco, Mexico, to develop the tequila.

According to Statistic Brain, Clooney’s average annual earnings were about $19 million. The site also showed that his film salary was $20 million for “Money Monster” and $20 million plus a revenue share for “Gravity.”

If celebrities were shy about starting brands or investing in brands before, they probably won’t be shy about that now.