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Last Updated: Friday, 18 May 2007, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
26m 'thank you' to whisky staff
Vivian Imerman
Mr Imerman bought the firm two years ago
Employees of whisky giant Whyte & Mackay are to share a 26m bonus after their outgoing chief executive offered to pay it out of his own pocket.

South African tycoon Vivian Imerman, 52, sold the firm to the Indian-based United Breweries Group in a deal worth 595m earlier this week.

He has offered to pay all 600 employees the equivalent of three month's salary as a thank you.

Mr Imerman bought Whyte & Mackay in 2005 and turned around the business.

He said he wanted to reward staff for the hard work they had put in to help transform Whyte & Mackay's fortunes. Employees were told of the windfall on Wednesday.

'Handsomely rewarded'

He told the Herald newspaper: "Clearly it has been a team effort by all the people involved, not just senior management.

"The 20 or so people at the top have been handsomely rewarded but I wanted to reward everybody.

"I therefore felt it appropriate, on a discretionary basis, to give every single employee this bonus. It is effectively a 25% bonus which is worth around 26m in total."

Staff were reported to be delighted with the bonus. One employee said that if there was a vote for the king of Scotland, Mr Imerman would probably win.

Clearly it has been a team effort by all the people involved, not just senior management
Vivian Imerman

Mr Imerman and his brother-in-law paid just over 200m for Whyte and Mackay in 2001 as part of a group of investors. He took full control two years ago.

He initially oversaw a round of job cuts and closed a bottling facility in Leith, but the company's profits quickly began to increase.

Whyte & Mackay's self-branded whisky holds about 3% of the UK whisky market. Most of its staff are based in Invergordon and Grangemouth, as well as its headquarters in Glasgow.

The company also owns the Dalmore and Jura brands as well as Vladivar vodka and Glayva liqueur.

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09 Oct 06 |  Business
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29 Dec 05 |  Scotland

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