Financial News

  • 13 February 2014, 9:38

Banks Raise Glass To Whyte & Mackay Sale

A trio of international banks has been lined up to oversee the sale of Whyte & Mackay, the whisky-distiller that counts Dalmore among its flagship brands.

Sky News understands that Rothschild, Standard Chartered and Rabobank have been appointed to oversee the auction, which will kick off imminently and could fetch more than 450m.

Diageo, the British drinks giant which is the world's biggest producer of Scotch, has offered to sell the business to appease concerns raised by UK competition regulators last year.

The FTSE 100 company, which owns Guinness and Smirnoff, holds a 25% stake in United Spirits, the parent of Whyte & Mackay.

United Spirits, part of the business empire of the flamboyant Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, bought Whyte & Mackay in 2007 for 595m.

In a statement last November, Chris Walters, OFT chief economist, said: "These companies are two of the leading suppliers of blended bottled whisky in the UK, especially to supermarkets and other large retailers.

"Our investigation considered a wide range of evidence and we concluded that the likely loss of competition could give rise to higher prices for retailers, and ultimately consumers.

"We are now considering Diageo's offer to sell the bulk of the Whyte & Mackay business with the exception of two malt distilleries, to address our concerns."

Insiders said on Wednesday that Diageo was "open-minded" about whether Dalmore would be included in the sale process.

"It depends on the quality of offers they receive," one said.

Potential buyers include other drinks companies, private equity groups, and Vivian Imerman, the former owner of Whyte & Mackay.

"Whyte and Mackay would make an important addition to the portfolio of spirits and beer businesses in Africa and Asia where Mr Imerman has been concentrating his efforts through his company Vasari," he said late last year.

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