UK: Wm Grant quashes Whyte & Mackay bid talk

By | 18 October 2006

UK spirits group William Grant & Sons has distanced itself from the race to buy Whyte & Mackay.

The privately-owned company, which owns brands including single malt Scotch whisky Glenfiddich, was reported to be interested in buying Invergordon Distillers, the Whyte & Mackay business that produces mainly own-label Scotch.

However, a spokesman for William Grant told just-drinks today (18 October) that the company was "not actively looking at Whyte & Mackay".

He said: "It's fair to say that there has been some interest from us in (Invergordon) in the past and when anything comes up we may look at it - but Whyte & Mackay is not something we're looking at."

The spokesman said William Grant was on the prowl for more acquisitions. He said the company was open to "tactical" deals that "added volumes or value to our business in specific markets", pointing to last year's acquisition of French brandy group Raynal & Cie.

William Grant was also interested in acquiring premium brands that would bolster the business in a number of markets, the spokesman said.

"However, there's nothing specific to talk about at the moment," he added.

Whyte & Mackay chairman and chief executive Vivian Imerman has received a number of offers for parts or all of the UK distiller.

India's UB Group has been the front-runner so far with the company's flamboyant owner Dr. Vijay Mallya arriving in Scotland last weekend for talks with Imerman.

However, negotiations between the two companies are believed to have hit a snag over the price demanded by Imerman and no resolution to the talks is expected for a few weeks.

UB was at least looking to tie up a distribution and licencing deal, which would allow the spirits giant to tap into Whyte & Mackay's reserves of aged whisky.

UB officials in Bangalore could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Whyte & Mackay, William Grant, Glenfiddich, UB Group

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