Diageo and American rapper Combs had partnered on Ciroc vodka's marketing since 2007; while in 2013, Combs and Diageo formed a joint venture to buy DeLeón in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.
In May, Combs filed a lawsuit against Diageo North America, claiming the company had neglected and underpromoted his DeLeón brand; also accusing the company of treating him and his brands worse than others ‘because he is Black’.
Diageo – which stated it ‘categorically denied’ the allegations and had pledged to ‘defend itself vigorously’ - sought to dismiss the lawsuit: saying it had tried to salvage a broken relationship with Combs for years; and accused Combs of failing to honor his commitments to the brand.
In June, Diageo announced it was ending its business relationship with the rapper.
On Tuesday, Diageo and Combs confirmed they have agreed to resolve all disputes between them: resulting in Diageo taking full ownership of DeLeon.
“Mr. Combs has withdrawn all of his allegations about Diageo and will voluntarily dismiss his lawsuits against Diageo with prejudice,” says a statement from UK-headquartered beer and spirits giant Diageo.
“Diageo and Mr. Combs have no ongoing business relationship, either with respect to Cîroc vodka or DeLeón tequila, which Diageo now solely owns.”
Tequila – alongside beer and Scotch whisky – now represents one of the three largest categories for Diageo: representing huge growth given the company had no substantive presence in the category eight years ago. In fiscal 23, Diageo saw tequila sales grow 19%.
Promoted as a ‘new level of luxury in tequila’, DeLeón joins Diageo's tequila portfolio with Casamigos (bought from George Clooney for up to $1bn in 2017) and Don Julio (acquired in 2015).