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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April, 2005, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Foreign firms acquire whisky trio
Whisky distillery
Three of Scotland's most famous distilleries are to get new owners
Three well-known Scottish whisky brands look set to come under foreign control as part of a multi-billion pound buy-out within the drinks industry.

French drinks group Pernod Ricard has offered to buy Allied Domecq for 7.4bn, in partnership with US company Fortune Brands.

Allied's board has already approved the deal, which would include brands like Laphroaig, Teacher's and Ballantine's.

Pernod has moved to calm fears that the deal will lead to heavy job losses.

The company has made the bid to try and catch market leader Diageo, cut costs and expand in the US, where industry growth is faster than in Europe.

Profit maker

Under the deal Ballantine's would fall under French control while Teacher's and Laphroaig would be passed on to Fortune and come under US management.

Ballantine's can trace its history back to 1865 in Glasgow and was patronised by Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

It is seen by analysts as the jewel of the Allied portfolio as it generates more profits than any of its other brands, bringing in 300m a year.

It came under foreign control in 1937, when it was bought by Canadian distillers Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts, before being acquired by Allied in 1988.

Pernod and Fortune factfile
Pernod Ricard was created from the merger of the two spirits companies in 1975
Pernod owns the Chivas Regal, Glenlivet and Clan Campbell Scottish whisky brands
Pernod entered the top three in the wine and spirits market in 2001 after acquiring Seagram
Pernod employs 12,250 staff and reported operating profits of 506.9m last year
Fortune Brands is both a spirits and consumer brands group
Fortune is set to pick off some of the Allied products to offset competition concerns
The Pernod-Fortune tie-up creates the number one spirits company outside the US

Investment bank Merrill Lynch had expected it to be sold by Pernod to Fortune to finance the overall deal, but the latest details show it would be retained by the French firm.

Teacher's currently generates a quarter of Ballantine's annual profits and was registered in 1884 by William Teacher in his native Glasgow.

Mr Teacher started out with a string of "dram shops" selling wines and spirits in the city and within 20 years the brand was being exported to the US. It was acquired by Allied in 1976.

Meanwhile, Laphroaig is a relative minnow in monetary terms despite being the fastest-growing single malt scotch on the market.

It is the oldest whisky brand in the Allied portfolio and dates back to 1815 when it was first distilled on the island of Islay in Argyll and Bute.

The distillery was acquired by Allied in 1990 and in 1994 the Prince of Wales awarded the company a royal warrant.

Market opportunities

Industry leaders have welcomed the move, which brings together the world's second and third largest drinks companies.

The Scotch Whisky Association is looking forward to the prospect of the product reaching new markets and drinkers overseas.

A spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association said: "What is encouraging for Scotch whisky is that companies both at home and abroad are continuing to invest in the industry."

Allied's other top brands include Beefeater gin, Stolichnaya vodka and Malibu rum and its London share price rose 3.1% in the wake of the deal's announcement on Thursday morning.

Pernod's drinks stable includes Chivas Regal scotch, Martell cognac and Jacob's Creek wines, while Fortune most famously owns Jim Beam bourbon.

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