Bid approach for one of last independent Scotch makers

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The Independent Online

One of Scotland's last independent whisky makers saw its shares soar 25 per cent yesterday after it revealed that it had received a bid approach from its largest shareholder.

Shares in Burn Stewart Distillers, which had already jumped by 29 per cent in the past three days, closed at 43.5p, valuing the group at £28m. The sharp increase in the value of the group is understood to have prompted the City's takeover regulator to investigate whether details of the approach had been leaked.

In a statement released after the market had closed, Burn Stewart confirmed that the approach had come from its 28.3 per cent shareholder, the Trinidad and Tobago-based financial conglomerate CL Financial that owns the aromatic Angostura bitters.

The Scottish distiller, run by the managing director Billy Walker, said it "strongly advised" shareholders not to sell their shares. It would not comment on whether the approach was likely to lead to a recommended offer.

The loss-making group, described by one analyst as "the bottom drawer of the industry", recently crept back into the black at the operating level. It exports whisky to more than 40 countries, but its biggest markets are in the Far East.

A bid from CL Financial would leave Glenmorangie as Scotland's sole independent stock market-quoted whisky distiller after Highland Distillers, the maker of Famous Grouse, was taken private a couple of years ago.