Ex-CEO shows interest in buying Diageo's Whyte & Mackay

November 29
9:49 AM 2013

Vasari Chairman Vivian Imerman said in his statement through his investment firm on Friday that he is interested in acquiring Whyte & Mackay back from Diageo. Imerman was dubbed as "The Man from Del Monte" due to his turnaround efforts in the tinned fruit company. Imerman also led the sale of Whyte & Mackay to United Spirits back in 2007 for GBP595 million or USD972.62 million.

The sale of Whyte & Mackay was imminent as Diageo is forced to divest its whisky assets in compliance to competition concerns stemming from his purchase of a controlling stake in United Spirits of India.

Vasari said in an emailed statement, "Whyte and Mackay would make an important addition to the portfolio of spirits and beer businesses in Africa and Asia where Mr Imerman has been concentrating his efforts through his company Vasari. The W&M brand would be complementary to the strategy of acquiring and growing businesses in these regions to take advantage of rapid consumer growth."

When asked for comment about Imerman's interest with the whisky assets, Diageo refused to provide one.

Diageo in July acquired a 25% ownership stake in United Spirits, who owned Whyte & Mackay. On Monday, the British competition authority said Diageo's Bell's whiskey directly competes with Whyte & Mackay's own-label and branded whisky, of which the agency deemed that it would create a significant decrease in competition. Due to the agency's suggestion, Diageo offered to divest its Whyte & Mackay's distilleries located in the towns of Invergordon, Jura and Fettercairn. The three distilleries accounted for the bulk of its blended Scotch units. On the other hand, Diageo said it wanted to keep its smaller malt distilleries in Dalmore and Tamnavulin.

Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling believed that the divestment of Whyte & Mackay, of which he noted that the brand is not strong in its market, could fetch around GBP350 to GBP600 million. This in dollars, would be around USD566 million to USD971 million.

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