Two weeks ago, Gibson Guitar abruptly canceled plans for what was to have been a major business announcement: the launch of a partnership with Fiji to become the island nation’s exclusive buyer of mahogany to make the Nashville company’s high-end guitars.
Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz and his supplier had worked for months to pull off the deal, giving a $5,000 guitar to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama last summer as a gesture of good will.
But the Fijian leader’s trip to Nashville didn’t materialize, the announcement was canceled and a hurried explanation from Gibson said the negotiations were continuing.
The on-again, off-again deal between Gibson and Bainimarama -- a military strongman who has taken control of many of the island’s resources and denied free elections since a 2006 coup, according to human rights groups -- illustrates the uncertainties facing guitar makers such as Gibson.
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