Glenmorangie joins LVMH's luxury line-up for £300m

Glenmorangie joined the rarefied drinks cabinet at LVMH yesterday after the French luxury goods group beat off rivals Pernod Ricard and Bacardi to acquire the Scottish whisky distiller for £300m.

Glenmorangie joined the rarefied drinks cabinet at LVMH yesterday after the French luxury goods group beat off rivals Pernod Ricard and Bacardi to acquire the Scottish whisky distiller for £300m.

The sale to LVMH removes the last independent whisky company from public hands. It means a £105m windfall for the Macdonald family, who put the business up for sale in July after controlling it for the best part of a century.

Although LVMH, whose chief executive is Bernard Arnault, tabled the highest offer, the luxury goods group was also the favoured bidder because it pledged to safeguard 250 jobs at Glenmorangie's bottling plant in Broxburn, near Edinburgh, which other possible purchasers were expected to cull. Paul Neep, Glenmorangie's chief executive, said: "We had two objectives. To get the best value for all shareholders and to maintain employment. We can tick both boxes." He added: "We don't expect any change in the terms of employment."

Glenmorangie is best known for its single malt distilled by the "16 men of Tain" but also owns other brands such as Ardbeg and Glen Moray. LVMH plans to turn Glenmorangie into a truly international whisky, pushing it into markets such as Asia.

Under its new ownership, the single malt will rub shoulders with some of the world's most prestigious drinks brands: from champagnes such as Moët & Chandon, Dom Perignon and Krug to cognacs such as Hennessy and wine makers such as Cloudy Bay.

Christophe Navarre, who runs LVMH's drinks subsidiary, called Glenmorangie a "fitting companion" for the group's "prestige brands". He added: "Glenmorangie is a fine whisky, a growing brand and a strong company. We look forward to a prosperous future together."

LVMH is paying £17.176 for the company's 'A' shares and £24.127 for its 'B' shares. The split share structure of Glenmorangie means that although the Macdonald family - who are mainly aged in their 70s - controls the majority of votes, they own only about one-third of the company by value. Although the last Macdonald to run the business, David, retired as chairman in 1995, Alison Macdonald is still the company secretary.

Mr Neep said there was a "strong possibility" that the sale of the company to LVMH meant its existing distribution arrangements with Brown-Forman and Bacardi would be terminated. The sale is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In addition to the bottlers at Broxburn, Glenmorangie employs about 50 people at its distilleries in Tain, Ross-shire and on Speyside and Islay.

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