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Apr 15, 2013

Distell buys international whisky distilleries for $244m

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South African wines, spirits and flavoured alcoholic beverage producer Distell is expanding its global exposure with the acquisition of Scotch whisky producer Burn Stewart from CL World Brands (CLWB) and Angostura for $244-million.

The deal would see the JSE-listed group take over three Scotland-based malt whisky distilleries – Tobermory, located on the Isle of Mull; the Isle of Islay-based Bunnahabhain; and Deanston, in Doune, near Stirling – producing a total of 6.7-million litres a year of alcohol.

The Glasgow-headquartered Burn Stewart, which maintained a strong portfolio of blended and single malt whiskey brands, also had a branch in Taiwan and had partnered with Distell in a joint venture operation in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Burn Stewart’s strong presence in the UK, Taiwan and other countries provides Distell with enhanced sales platforms and route-to-market opportunities,” the company said in a statement on Monday.

The acquisition also filled a “category gap” in the South African group’s portfolio and would provide access to a “highly attractive” sector, the company explained, citing the growing demand for Scotch whiskey.

Over the past decade, Scotch whisky exports rose 87%, reaching £4.3-billion, while single malt exports jumped 190% from £268-million to £778-million.

“Rising demand for Scotch whisky from both mature and emerging markets saw the value of exports grow for the eighth consecutive year,” Distell commented.

The South African company said it would retain Burn Stewart’s MD and senior executive management. Burn Stewart would also continue to bottle and distribute for the Caribbean-based rum producer Angostura.

Distell released an initial payment of $229-million on April 12 and a contingent amount of $15-million would be payable in cash in the next year, subject to Burn Stewart achieving the agreed requisite earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

CLWB parent company, Trinidad-based CL Financial, would appoint two directors to the board of Burn Stewart for the duration of the contingent consideration, Distell noted.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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