Scotland business

Philippines firm Emperador buys Whyte & Mackay for £430m

Bottle of Whyte & Mackay whisky
Image caption USL acquired Whyte & Mackay seven years ago for nearly £600m

United Spirits (USL) has announced it has agreed to sell its Whyte & Mackay whisky business to Philippines-based brandy producer Emperador for £430m.

The Indian spirits maker is being forced to sell the brand for antitrust reasons following a move by rival Diageo to buy a controlling stake in USL.

The sale is subject to regulatory approval in India and the UK.

USL acquired Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay seven years ago for £595m.

USL chairman Vijay Mallya said: "I am very proud of what Whyte and Mackay had achieved under USL ownership.

"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 of Whyte and Mackay is aligned with that of USL."

Emperador chairman Andrew Tan said: "Whisky is the second fastest growing spirits segment in the world next to brandy.

"The growing demand for Scotch whisky has shown strong growth over recent years and is expected to continue this momentum going forward."

He added: "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."

Competition concerns

Diageo began its tie-up with USL in 2012, when it bought an initial stake in the firm.

But in November 2013, the UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said Diageo's control of USL was against competition and could lead to higher whisky prices in the UK.

As the deal increased Diageo's share of the blended whisky market to about 40%, the OFT was concerned this could reduce competition and raise prices for consumers.

In response, Diageo offered to sell most of its Whyte & Mackay business to appease the competition authorities.

Last month Diageo said it would launch a $1.9bn tender offer to complete its plan to acquire a majority stake in USL.

Already its largest shareholder with 28.8%, Diageo is now seeking to purchase an additional 26% stake.

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