Diageo will sever ties with entrepreneur and music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs, according to a Tuesday court filing.
The 15-year partnership between Diageo North America and Combs included equal ownership of DeLeón tequila and a Cîroc marketing partnership. Diageo’s move follows a May 31 lawsuit by Combs, which alleges the spirit corporation failed to properly support and market the two brands due to racial discrimination. In the suit, Combs claims that his brands were pushed to “urban” neighborhoods and “typecast” by leadership.
In the company’s Tuesday filing, Diageo said Combs’ lawsuit includes “false and reckless allegations” that are “defamatory.” The company also claims to have invested more than $100 million total in his brands and calls the joint venture with Combs unbalanced, stating that Combs personally contributed just $1,000 to support DeLeón. Diageo now alleges he earned nearly $1 billion, primarily from the Cîroc agreement.
“We have exhausted every reasonable remedy and see no other path forward,” Diageo said in a June 27 statement.
Attorneys representing Combs Wines and Spirits shared a brief statement in response with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“He brought the lawsuit to force them to live up to that contract, and instead they respond by trying to get rid of him. This lawsuit and Mr. Combs are not going away,” the statement said, calling Diageo’s actions “a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination.” Attorneys also say that the entrepreneur had “repeatedly raised concerns as senior executives uttered racially insensitive comments and made biased decisions.”