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Radico to buy entire Bacardi stake in Whytehall

26-June-2004
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Radico to buy entire Bacardi stake in Whytehall

The domestic spirits major Radico Khaitan has shut the door on possible suitors for Bacardi's 51 per cent stake and management control in Whytehall India Ltd, makers of an eponymous whisky brand.

The Lalit Khaitan-managed company will acquire the entire stake of Bacardi or most of it as it takes over Whytehall's half-a-million cases annual Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) operations. Whytehall is a 51:49 joint venture between Bacardi and Radico Khaitan.

Top company officials said the deal was awaiting final regulatory approval and an announcement will be made soon. The deal size could not be ascertained even though unconfirmed reports suggested that Bacardi's stake might be valued between Rs 16 crore and Rs 18 crore. Radico Khaitan has already started streamlining Whytehall's operations for synergistic efficiencies.

However, Whytehall is likely to keep its separate identity and Mr Shoban Roy, an industry veteran who heads the company, may play a larger role in Khaitan's fast expanding liquor business, sources added.

With this acquisition, Radico has closed the options before other potential suitors, including Mr Ramesh Vangal's Katra Liquor, which was keen on Whytehall. Sources said Khaitans were not comfortable playing a minority partner to Mr Vangal's rekindled spirits ambitions. The development comes in the wake of Bacardi's plans to exit IMFL market following a lacklustre stint after it acquired Whytehall from Whyte & Mackay in 2001. It is learnt that Bacardi will now focus its attention on developing its international portfolio of brands in India. Incidentally, United Distillers & Vintners, part of Diageo Plc, took a similar course in 2002 when it jettisoned IMFL assets, which were picked up by the UB group.

The Rs 727-crore Radico Khaitan operates in both IMFL and country liquor space. It closed last financial year with sales volume of 9.5 million cases and has targeted nearly 12 million in the current year.

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