Cooley Distillery is to float on the London Alternative Investment Market (AIM), according to press reports. The Sunday Times last weekend said that the whiskey maker plans to float in May at a price which values it at around €20m. Around 9.5m shares will be priced at around €2 each.

The Sunday Times said that the flotation will probably not be used to raise finance for the company, but this has not been definitively ruled out.

The company's board is set to meet this month to give final approval to the move, the paper reported. It predicts that the company's directors and certain large shareholders will be required to lock in their shareholdings for a minimum of 12 months.

In August last year, the company posted pre-tax profits of just over €1m in 2002, up 27% from the previous year. Sales revenues at the company, the only domestically-owned producer of Irish whiskey, rose by 9% to €9.1m. Profits this year are expected to reach €1.25m.