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Diageo slumps in Asia, but growth will return: CEO

Global drinks brand Diageo posted disappointing sales for the first half on Thursday, after a slump in Asia Pacific, but the CEO insisted that the business was "solid" in developed markets.

The world's biggest spirit maker, which owns brands such as Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, Baileys and Guinness, reported that net sales fell 1 percent to £5.9 billion ($8.9 billion) in the six months to December 31 – the company's fiscal first half. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected revenue of £6 billion.

Sales slipped 4 percent in Europe and a slowdown in emerging markets saw sales tank 39 percent in the Asia Pacific region.

But Ivan Menezes, chief executive officer of Diageo, told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" that the results were "solid" and showed that the business had momentum.


SeongJoon Cho | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"Our second quarter was stronger than our first quarter, but the world is choppy out there in the emerging markets in places like Nigeria, Venezuela and Russia. However our business is solid in the developed world," he said.

Menezes added that business had improved in two-thirds of emerging markets and was also doing well in established markets like the U.S. Sales in the U.S. were down 1 percent, but rose 38 percent in Africa.

He also said he was confident that momentum in China – dented by a government clampdown on ostentatious wealth and official gift giving -- would return. In mainland China, scotch sales were down 22 percent, Diageo said.

"I am confident that the consumer momentum in China will come back as we get into the second half of this year and into 2016," Menezes added.

"What you saw in our business and other spirit players was a correction that happened through the austerity drive over the past couple of years, but we're coming through that and we will be back in good growth."

The company raised its interim dividend to 21.5 pence per share, up 9 percent from the same period a year ago. Earnings per share before exceptional items were 53.7 pence.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld