DIAGEO has offered to sell most of Whyte & Mackay’s whisky assets to address competition concerns arising from its July acquisition of a controlling interest in India’s United Spirits.
Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits maker, said yesterday that it would assist the Office of Fair Trading with its evaluation of the United Spirits deal and that a further announcement would be made in due course.
In July Diageo took a 25 per cent stake in United Spirits, part of industrialist Vijay Mallya’s empire and owner of Whyte & Mackay, which sells a branded Scotch whisky but has a bigger business supplying bulk whisky that other drink makers brand as their own.
But the competition authority said that Diageo’s lower-end Bell’s whisky competes with Whyte & Mackay’s own-label and branded whisky and that the merger may lead to “a substantial lessening” of competition.
Diageo has offered to sell Whyte & Mackay’s Invergordon, Jura and Fettercairn grain distilleries, which account for the bulk of its blended Scotch. It would like to keep the smaller Dalmore and Tamnavulin malt distilleries.
City A.M. Reporter