Sazerac buys further stake in India’s John Distilleries Private Limited

Sazerac, the New Orleans-based family-owned spirits company, is continuing a programme of rapid expansion by buying an enhanced stake in India’s John Distilleries Private Limited (JDPL) from Gaja Capital, the private equity house.

Neither side will comment on the value of the transaction, but the 20% stake in JPDL is valued in Gaja’s books at some £116 million.

Sazerac bought a 23% stake in JDPL from Gaja in October and will now own 43% of the company. Paul John, the chairman and managing director, holds a controlling 57% stake.

With sales of more than 15 million cases, John Distilleries produces the world’s seventh-largest whiskey brand – Original Choice – which sells 11 million cases a year. Its Paul John single malt has been gaining a reputation in that niche market.

Other brands include Bangalore Malt, Black Pelican Fine Whisky, Mont Castle French Grape Brandy and Big Banyan Wines. The company, based in Bangalore, had gross revenues of more than £354 million in its latest financial year.

The news comes hot on the heels of Sazerac completing its $550 million purchase of 19 liquor brands from Diageo, a deal that included Seagram’s VO Canadian whisky, Myers’s Rum and Booth’s gin.

That transaction was scheduled to be completed early this year, but was closed on December 28 and can thus be incorporated in the results for Diageo’s half year which ended on December 31.

Nearly three years ago Sazerac bought the Southern Comfort and Tuaca brands from Brown-Forman for $543.5 million.

Sazerac’s US strategy is to develop iconic but struggling brands with the intention of reinvigorating them. In India, however, it is investing in a burgeoning market.

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