Monday, November 24, 2008

A run on Starbucks?

If the U.S. government can spend $20 billion for a stake in Citigroup, why shouldn’t Colombia and other coffee-growing nations invest a piddling $300 million to buy a controlling interest in Starbucks? That’s the notion that was aired yesterday, apparently in all seriousness, by the director of the National Federation of Coffee Growers, according to a Reuters report.

Gabriel Silva reportedly explained to the Latino newspaper El Tiempo that the purchase would be a way of seizing the U.S. coffee pipeline and thereby ensuring it’s filled with members’ brews, presumably at an attractive price. The move would merely be a dash of vertical integration sprinkled with some emerging-world socialism.

But there’s of course one big, big problem: $300 million, the high end of what Silva estimated would be needed to secure control of Starbucks, probably wouldn’t cover some patrons’ latte bills. Even in a depressed stock market, the coffee chain’s market cap is hovering around $6 billion.

Perhaps Silva’s federation could team up with the biscotti bloc and make a real run on the company.

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