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Emperador buys Whyte & Mackay for £430m

Indian drinks group United Spirits has sold its Whyte & Mackay whisky business to Philippines-based brandy producer Emperador Inc.

Whyte & Mackay
Whyte & Mackay Scotch whisky has been bought by Emperador Inc for £430 million

Emperador, part of conglomerate Alliance Global Group, has acquired the Scotch firm for £430 million, according to a statement by United Spirits Limited (USL).

Whyte & Mackay was put up for sale by United Spirits in February this year as part of its tumultuous acquisition process by Diageo.

UK regulator the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) raised concerns about Diageo’s acquisition of a controlling stake in United Spirits in November last year, citing competition concerns.

The OFT found there to currently be “substantial competition in the retail sector between Bell’s whisky, a Diageo label, and Whyte & Mackay’s own-label and branded blended whisky”.

In order to mitigate competition concerns, United Spirits is offering to sell the whisky business, which includes the Jura, The Dalmore, Fettercrane and Tamnavulin distilleries.

Initially, USL proposed to keep The Dalmore and Tamnavulin, but it has not yet been confirmed whether these distilleries are included in Emperador’s purchase.

“I am very proud of what Whyte and Mackay has achieved under USL ownership,” said United Spirits chairman Vijay Mallay.

“Moreover, I am delighted to be able to pass on Whyte and Mackay into the hands of a new owner who is committed to realising the full potential of the business and whose vision for Whyte and Mackay is aligned with that of USL.”

As part of the deal, Emperador will supply whisky to United Spirits for three years.

Since news that Whyte and Mackay was on the market broke, numerous other bidders, including Gruppo Campari, SPI Group, Lions Capital and TPG Capital, have been named in reports.

Andrew Tan, chairman of Emperador, said: “Whisky is the fastest growing spirits segment in the world, next to brandy. With this acquisition, Emperador will be exposed to two of the fastest growing spirits segments in the world.

“We believe that Whyte and Mackay is a prized asset with excellent growth opportunity and its acquisition is in line with our plans to enhance our product portfolio.

“Whyte and Mackay has a global distribution network in over 50 countries that Emperador brandy will have access to.”

The acquisition now awaits approval by USL shareholders and UK and Indian regulators.

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