LONDON Feb 12 India's United Spirits
has hired banks to help in the sale of its Whyte & Mackay Scotch
whisky business, which could fetch 450 million pounds ($741.8
million) and is expected to kick off next week, sources told
Rothschild, Rabobank and Standard
Chartered have been picked to advise on the sale, which
was offered in November to appease UK regulators by Diageo
following the latter's purchase of a controlling stake
in United Spirits.
Regulators had been concerned that the acquisition would
hurt competition in Britain, the world's No. 3 Scotch market
behind France and the United States.
Potential buyers, which could include private equity firms
as well as other companies in the drinks sector, were contacted
at the end of last week to gauge their interest, said one of the
sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Information memorandums will likely be sent out next week to
interested parties, another source said.
Whyte & Mackay has about 7 percent of Britain's market for
blended Scotch whisky, which combines whiskies often made from
various grains. It also supplies retailers with own-brand
whiskies that account for 18 percent of a market worth $1.74
billion a year, according to researchers IWSR.
In July 2013 Diageo took a 28.78 percent stake in United
Spirits, part of industrialist Vijay Mallya's empire.
Diageo, which already controls more than 20 percent of the
UK blended market, has also offered to sell the large grain
distillery at Invergordon, which accounts for the bulk of the
blended Scotch Whyte & Mackay sells, as well as the smaller malt
distilleries Fetercairn and Jura.
Diageo wants to keep the remaining small malt distilleries
Tamnavulin and Dalmore, which it says supply United Spirits and
international markets. Sources say high-end Dalmore, known for
its stag's head logo, is the jewel in the crown.
United Spirits and Rabobank could not immediately be reached
for comment. Standard Chartered, Diageo and Rothschild declined