Blog: Olly WehringThe end's finally nigh for Whyte & Mackay

Olly Wehring | 16 May 2007

After what has seemed forever, India's UB Group finally closed its purchase of Scotland's Whyte & Mackay today (16 May). The saga originally started in August last year, and the rumour mill has been fuelled quite liberally by various sources we've had close to the situation (to whom, a big thank you - you know who you are).

So, how are the Indians going to be welcomed in Scotland. According to W&M's managing director, Bob Brannan, the Scotch companies he's spoken to are "delighted" to have UB Group coming into the industry - a GBP595m investment and a strong platform into international markets certainly won't do Scotch's profile any harm.

The long-running issue of India's punitive tariffs against foreign spirits, however, could cause some bad blood. One Scotch insider told just-drinks today: "Mallya's stated his intentions to promote whisky in India - it's a very difficult market for us to operate in, and we need to have the same opportunities as the domestic players."

One thing all parties seem agreed on is the "significant investment" UB is putting into Scotch. "I don't think anyone would make that kind of investment if they didn't believe in what they were doing," another senior Scotch executive told us.

This source warned ominously, however: "The Scotch industry is very regulated. They (UB Group) will find that out soon enough."

The best of luck to all concerned - we stand on the touchline, pen in hand.


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