UK: Whyte & Mackay silent on UB bid talk

By | 17 August 2006

Whyte & Mackay has stayed silent on reports that India's UB Group has tabled a bid to buy the UK distiller's Invergordon Distillers business.

Bob Brannan, Whyte & Mackay's managing director, refused to be drawn on reports in India today (17 August) that UB had made an offer worth INR17.6bn (US$379.5m) for Invergordon.

"There's a lot of speculation (but) we don't comment on these type of things," he told just-drinks.

Officials at UB's offices in Banaglore could not be reached for comment when contacted by just-drinks today.

Whyte & Mackay had put Invergordon, which produces mainly private-label Scotch whisky, up for sale late last year. However, the company has decided to keep the business, it said, due to the growth of its brands and a rise in prices for private-label Scotch in the UK.

Brannan re-iterated Whyte & Mackay's wish to hang onto Invergordon but added: "The value of Invergordon has gone up since we started the sale process eight or nine months ago. Everything has a value in life and if someone came along with an offer that met that valuation, we would seriously consider it."

Private-label whisky represents just over half of Whyte & Mackay's volumes and the company has long stated its wish to see its brand portfolio - including Scotch whiskies Whyte & Mackay and Isle of Jura - account for a majority of sales.

Last month, the company posted a 28% leap in operating profit to GBP11.1m (US$21.1m) for the year to 30 September. Turnover was up 4% to GBP149m.

Brannan has said that the company is "on the verge of major distribution deals" in key emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Whyte & Mackay, UB Group

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