Beam to purchase Cooley Distillery

Cooley Distillery, Ireland’s only independent distillery, is to be bought by Beam Inc of Illinois for the sum of $95 million approximately (on a debt-free basis).

Leading global premium spirit company Beam Inc will therefore own Cooley brands Kibeggan, Connemara, Tyrconnell and Greenore.

The deal reflects Irish whiskey’s success as one of the only sectors of the spirits market in strong growth and Beam’s strong distribution and brand-building capabilities. The category grew 11.5 per cent in 2010 to 4.86 million cases.

Beam owns such brands as Jim Beam Bourbon, Maker’s Mark, Sauza Tequila, Knob Creek Bourbon, Effen Vodka, Canadian Club Whisky, Larios Gin, DeKuyper Cordials, Courvoisier Cognac and Teacher’s Scotch.

It enjoyed a turnover of $2.7 billion in 2010, shifting 33 million cases.

Cooley currently sells around 250,000 nine-litre cases of whiskey a year and produces whiskey on behalf of others.

“Cooley is one of only three sources for Irish whiskey, and the only independent player, so this transaction is a unique and compelling high-return opportunity to enter one of the industry’s highest growth categories,” said Beam’s President and Chief Executive Matt Shattock, “We see the opportunity to leverage our combination of scale with agility to further build consumer demand for Cooley’s award-winning brands and to expand distribution off a relatively small base in key export markets for Irish whiskey across North America and Europe.”

He added, “We look forward to being good stewards of these iconic Irish assets.  We are also eager to work with the Cooley team, led by the Teeling family, who have built Cooley with so much pride and passion, to capitalise on the opportunities that lie ahead”.

Founder and Chairman of Cooley Distillery John Teeling explained, “Beam understands whiskey.  They have the culture, experience and global strength to enable the Cooley portfolio of brands to reach their potential in the fast-growing Irish whiskey category.  The renaissance in Irish whiskey, most evident in the United States, is now spreading across the world.  Through Beam, our brands, built on quality, will be introduced to a host of new consumers”.

Irish whiskey’s leading markets can be found in the US, Ireland, the UK, France, South Africa and Germany.

The transaction is conditioned upon holders of at least 80% of Cooley’s outstanding stock accepting the offer and other customary closing conditions.  Holders of over 75% of Cooley’s outstanding stock have irrevocably agreed with Beam to tender their shares in the offer.  The parties expect to complete the transaction in the first quarter of 2012.  

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