The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A heady pool of 115m litres

Mumbai, May 16: Vijay Mallya today snapped up Glasgow-based Scotch whisky maker Whyte & Mackay for £595 million (Rs 4,803 crore), setting the stage for the introduction of several liquor brands in India.

Some of the brands in the Whyte & Mackay bottle are Isle of Jura single malt, premium Scotch Dalmore and Viadivar vodka.

“The potential for premium Scotch whisky in India is enormous,” Mallya told reporters in a videoconference from Glasgow. “With the acquisition, we now have a strong portfolio of internationally recognised brands that we will immediately introduce into the Indian market.”

The deal gives Mallya access to a 115-million-litre pool of bulk Scotch whisky that has been independently valued at between £350 million and £400 million — which his company can use for its own local Scotch whisky blends. Last year, United Spirits imported almost 18 million litres of bulk Scotch to blend with its domestic whisky brands.

At present, Scotch whisky bottles imported into the country attract levies of around 250 per cent. The duty on whisky imported in bulk containers is a lot less. The plan is, therefore, to import liquor in bulk and bottle them here.

Mallya did not say which brands from the W&M stable he would launch first in India. “The deal was concluded just six hours ago. It’s still too early to talk about the brands we will launch in India,” said a senior official.

Mallya has been stalking the 163-year-old Whyte & Mackay — one of the largest Scotch whisky makers in the world — for close to a year. Today’s deal makes it the fourth biggest acquisition abroad by an Indian company this year.

Whyte & Mackay owns the Invergordon distillery, with a capacity to produce 40 million litres a year, and four malt whisky distilleries in Scotland. The company’s bottling facility in Grangemouth can produce 12 million cases annually.

“India is emerging as an important centre for Scotch whisky consumption with demand growing at 30 per cent per annum, albeit coming off a very low base,” Citigroup Global Markets had said yesterday. “With Indian consumers trading up from lower-end to high-end whiskies, demand for bulk Scotch for blending with local whisky is also increasing rapidly.”

Data from the Scotch Whisky Association indicate India ranks 16th among the world’s top export destinations. France, the US and Spain are the three largest importers.

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