Earlier this summer Coca-Cola denied rumours that it was thinking about opening a manufacturing plant in North Korea.
A fascinating article in Forbes reveals where these rumours came from.
Maverick private equity guy Gabriel Schulze, who has done lots of business in North Korea and has informal connections with Coca-Cola, recently laid down the the groundwork for a deal. He did so knowing it was a long shot.
Schulze told Forbes:
“We understand that there’s a high likelihood that there could be all sorts of trouble and that we could end up losing money. There’s a lot of [U.S.North Korea] mistrust, there’s a lot of gamesmanship, and for us it’s not about pretending that that’s not there. We’re not in a little bubble of happiness.”
At least North Korea seems to back the deal. In a meeting set up by Kim Jong il himself, Schultz made his case to Park Chol Su, the president of Taepung International Investment Group.
Park told Forbes:
“Coke is strategic. I hope that Coke will serve as a bridge for relations between the two governments,” says Park, a slight man with a toothy smile and a taste for liquor, over a traditional Korean hot pot lunch and beer. Then, perhaps, sanctions could be lifted and more substantial investments could follow. “The door will be open to the whole world, not only China—even the U.S., even Western countries.”
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