United Spirits gets shareholders nod to sell Whyte & Mackay

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 5 2014, 02:42am hrs
United SpiritsIn the postal ballot, the deal got approval from 99.8 per cent of shareholders, it added. (Photo: AP)
Liquor major United Spirits today said its shareholders have approved sale of its UK arm Whyte & Mackay for 430 million pounds to the Philippines-based Emperador.

The special resolution in connection with the sale of Whyte & Mackay has been approved by the United Spirits shareholders with requisite majority, United Spirits Ltd (USL) said in a filing to the BSE.

In the postal ballot, the deal got approval from 99.8 per cent of shareholders, it added.

In May, USL board had recommended that its indirectly owned subsidiary United Spirits (Great Britain) Ltd consider the sale of Whyte & Mackay Group to Emperador UK Ltd, a unit of Emperador Inc, for an enterprise value of 430 million pounds.

Emperador is an integrated manufacturer and distributor of brandy and other alcoholic beverages. Whyte & Mackay has a distribution network in over 50 countries that Emperador Brandy will have access to.

USL, which is now controlled by Diageo, acquired Whyte & Mackay in 2007 for about 595 million pounds (then Rs 5,000 crore).

In November 2013, UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found Diageo's USD 2 billion takeover of United Spirits to be anti-competitive, stating the deal might lead to reduced competition in the supply of blended whisky to retailers.

A distiller of Scotch whisky, Whyte & Mackay's brands include The Dalmore, Isle of Jura, Glayva, Fettercairn, Vladivar vodka and Whyte & Mackay blended Scotch.

Earlier this week, Diageo Plc acquired an additional 26 per cent shares in USL for Rs 11,448.91 crore. The UK-based firm paid Rs 3,030 for a share of USL, more than double of Rs 1,440 it offered in the previous bid last year.

Diageo, therefore, now has a total interest of 54.78 per cent in USL acquired for a total consideration of Rs 18,023.14 crore.

Diageo's earlier Rs 5,441-crore offer for 26 per cent stake had received a tepid response from public investors. Of 3.8 crore shares of USL that were on offer, shareholders tendered just 64,169 shares and only 58,688 scrips were accepted. Diageo had offered to buy shares at a price of Rs 1,440 per piece.

Diageo, which sells brands such as Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whiskey, had announced in 2012 it would pick up a 53.4 per cent stake in USL in a multi-structured deal.

USL brands include Signature, Bagpiper, Antiquity and Royal Challenge.

USL shares today closed at Rs 2,453.35 apiece on the BSE, down 1.38 per cent from its previous close.