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US firm Sazerac buys into John Distilleries; Gaja Capital partially exits

20 October, 2017

US-based spirits maker Sazerac Company has bought a stake in India’s John Distilleries Pvt. Ltd from mid-market private equity firm Gaja Capital, according to a press statement.

Gaja Capital, which had invested in John Distilleries in 2011, still has some stake in the spirits company, the statement said. It didn’t reveal financial details of the transaction.

Separately, The Times of India reported that Sazerac bought a 28% stake from Gaja Capital and that the transaction valued John Distilleries at Rs 1,000 crore. Sazerac will buy the the PE firm’s remaining 15% stake over the next two years. John Distilleries promoter Paul John will continue to hold 57%.

This is the second major deal in the sector in India after British spirits maker Diageo Plc agreed to acquire a controlling stake in United Spirits in 2012.

Paul John, chairman and managing director at John Distilleries, said the investment will help the company gain access to Sazerac’s technological expertise and a global portfolio of brands.

Sazerac has a portfolio of more than 350 brands including Fireball, Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon and E.H. Taylor.

John Distilleries, which was founded in 1996, has operations in 13 states and union territories in India. Its brands, including Original Choice Whisky and Bangalore Malt, are available through more than 15,000 outlets across the country. The company’s super premium brand, PJSM, sells in over 35 countries around the world.

The company reported gross revenue of Rs 2,800 crore in the year ended 31 March 2017, it said.

Jefferies India acted as the exclusive financial adviser to Gaja Capital and Sazerac was advised by Rabobank.

According to global consumer research firm GlobalData, whiskey accounted for 61.2% of India’s total spirits market by volume last year.

Pernod Ricard and Allied Blenders & Distillers Pvt. Ltd are other major players in the whisky segment.

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US firm Sazerac buys into John Distilleries; Gaja Capital partially exits

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