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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
Whisky distiller goes on market
Glenmorangie barrels
Glenmorangie is distilled at Tain, in the north of Scotland
The company that makes the UK's best-selling malt whisky is being put up for sale by its family owners.

The Edinburgh-based Macdonald family has decided to offload its stake of about 52% in Glenmorangie PLC.

City analysts are valuing the company at approximately 300m. Glenmorangie is in preliminary talks with a number of potentially interested buyers.

About 400 people are employed by the firm, which distills Glenmorangie malt at Tain, on the Dornoch Firth.

Production of the whisky is said to be entrusted to the care of just 16 people, known as the Sixteen Men of Tain.

When the deal is done there will be the hope of some indication from the new owners they will still be retaining a real commitment to the area
David Alston
Local councillor

One industry journal, Just-drinks.com, is tipping Bacardi and Brown-Forman, the US firm that makes Jack Daniel's, as favourites to buy the firm.

Brown-Forman already has a 10% stake in Glenmorangie's equity, a seat on the board and 25% of the "A" shares. It also distributes Glenmorangie in most global markets except Europe, where it is handled by Bacardi.

Fifteen shareholders from the Macdonald family collectively own the controlling stake in the firm. One report says they are likely to pocket more than 100m.

Staff meeting

A meeting of staff, who work in Tain and in Broxburn, West Lothian, has been called for Tuesday.

NM Rothschilds, the City investment bank, has been appointed to sound out potential purchasers.

A spokeswoman for the group said the Macdonald family had "realised it could not be a controlling shareholder forever" and had decided to exit the group from a position of strength.

Glenmorangie is the UK's best-selling malt whisky
Glenmorangie is the UK's best-selling malt whisky
She declined to name the parties involved but said a shortlist of bidders would be unveiled in early October.

David Alston, a Ross-shire councillor and local historian, said that news of the sale would be received with "huge surprise" because there had been no rumours beforehand.

"There will be worry but I think when the deal is done there will be the hope of some indication from the new owners they will still be retaining a real commitment to the area," he went on.

"It hasn't just been the distillery, it has also extended to the creation of a five-star hotel, Morangie House.

"I think we would still want to see they were locked into the range of involvement in Easter Ross."

The distillery was licensed in 1843 but the earliest documented reference to distillation on the site at the Morangie Burn goes back to 1703.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Chris Brook-Carter, just-drinks.com
"This is a very good name within the Scotch whisky industry"



SEE ALSO:
Whisky makers in high spirits
13 Jun 02  |  Business
Distillery to increase production
13 May 02  |  Scotland


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