Grand Met takes over Buton

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GRAND Metropolitan has succeeded in gaining majority control of Buton, just two months after buying an initial 34.9 per cent stake in the Italian drinks company, writes John Shepherd.

IDV, the drinks side of Grand Met, is paying nearly pounds 39m to buy BIF, the holding company that owns a controlling 50.1 per cent stake in Buton.

The purchase price equates to 6,620 lire (296p) for each Buton share, against the L5,000 paid when the first stake was bought in November. A public offer will be made for the 15 per cent minority balance.

The Buton purchase conforms to IDV's strategy of buying brands and distribution networks.

Buton, based in Bologna, produces and distributes Vecchia Romagna, a premium brandy. Vecchia Romagna is Italy's leading spirit brand and one of the world's top 100.

The company also makes branded bitters, liqueurs, aperitifs and sparkling wine and uses its distribution network to handle imported alcoholic drinks.

IDV, the second-biggest spirits company in the world, already has a strong presence in Italy after buying control of Cinzano a year ago.

Its brands include J&B, the second-largest-selling whisky in the world, Smirnoff, the best-selling vodka, and Baileys, the leading liqueur.