China conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. is buying a controlling stake in local baijiu maker Shede Spirits Co. Ltd. - formerly Group Sichuan Toupai Shede Group.
The deal is the second by Fosun as it seeks to increase its presence in the baijiu liquor sector.
The company - led by billionaire Guo Guangchang - will purchase a 70% stake in the beverage maker for $694 million in cash. Its parent company Fosun Group bought a 30% stake in winemaker Jinhui Liquor for $262 million in July last year.
In its stock exchange filing, Fosun said it was optimistic about the growth of Shede Spirits and the entire liquor and spirits sector in general. The company said the controlling stake acquisition should "cement" its presence in the industry - which it described as one that "supports the lifestyle" of China consumers.
The deal underscores the company's strategy of "pivoting inwards" to ensure business growth. With the rest of the world still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic China industries are experiencing rebounds.
Fosun's founder previously said he was actively seeking investment opportunities as the pandemic sparked an "asset-price downturn."
Fosun currently operates in several sectors ranging from health care and insurance to tourism and leisure. In 2019, about half of its revenue was generated by its overseas businesses.
Unfortunately, not all of Fosun's businesses avoided the effects of the pandemic. Forsun's travel businesses - including its Club Med and Thomas Cook subsidiaries - were hit the hardest. The company has been trying to offload some assets - including the sale of its 20% stake in circus operator Cirque du Soleil Entertainment.
Fosun is investing in its pharmaceutical division. Last year, the company's pharmaceutical arm Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group struck a strategic collaboration deal with Pfizer and BioNTech to develop and market a COVID-19 Vaccine based on BioNtech's mRNA platform.
Fosun reportedly plans to spend up to $135 million to commercialize and distribute the vaccine. Analysts said that Fosun was banking on the success of its pharmaceutical division to offset the slump in its other business units.