Vasari, a private investment firm run by a former owner of Whyte and Mackay, has bought a controlling stake in South African spirits maker TNB.

The deal, announced earlier today (3 February), gives Vasari access to TNB's portfolio of flavoured liqueurs, creams and infused whisky brands including Ponchos, Carvo and Kandi. No financial details have been disclosed, but Vasari said it will invest ZAR200m (US$18m) in TNB to develop new brands and expand further into Africa.

Vasari chairman Vivian Imerman, who sold Whyte and Mackay to Vijay Mallya's UB Group in 2007, said: “This is our first spirits investment following the ending of a five-year restraint on Vasari following the successful exit of Whyte and Mackay. TNB is uniquely placed to tap into the rising consumer demand for pleasant-tasting liqueurs and spirits and we see this trend gaining momentum not just in South Africa but across the continent."

Vasari has appointed former SABMiller senior executive Pedro Lotra as TNB's chief execuitve. The investment firm said the appointment of Lotra, who was previously SABMiller's new business development manager, sends “a clear signal to the market” of its ambition.

Gautang-based TNB distributes domestically and to markets including Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Australia. Exports represent 20% of sales, Vasari said.

Last yera, Vasari chief Imerman expressed an interest in buying back Whyte and Mackay after new owners Diageo offered to divest its central operations and some distilleries as part of its United Spirits takeover.