A&O and DLA perfect blend on £160m sale of whisky maker

Allen & Overy (A&O) and DLA Piper played key advisory roles on the £160m sale of Scottish whisky producer Burn Stewart Distillers to South African drinks group Distell.


Hugh Robinson
Hugh Robinson

The sale sees Distell buy 100 per cent of the share capital of East Kilbride-based Burn Stewart, which owns Scottish Leader and Black Bottle, from co-owners CL World Brands and Angostura.

The Edinburgh office of DLA Piper advised Distell on the sale, with corporate partner Paul Pignatelli taking the lead. Additional specialist support was provided by the firm’s UK competition, finance and real estate teams while one of Distell’s lawyers, Wessel De Wet, advised in-house.

A&O’s New York and London offices led for CL World Brands and Angostura, both of which are owned by Trinidad and Tobago-based CL Financial. London-based associate Hugh Robinson and New York capital markets partner Cathleen McLaughlin led for the firm, with assistance from Lex Caribbean’s Trinidad managing partner Marjorie Nunez.

DLA Piper said that rising demand for Scotch whisky from both mature and emerging markets saw the value of exports grow for the eighth consecutive year in 2012, reaching a record £4.3bn, with more distillery sales expected within the next 18 months.

Background to this deal:

Distell project manager (new business) Andy Mallett was in charge of putting the lawyers together for the Distell side and was the client point of contact throughout the deal. DLA Piper is understood to have won the mandate because Distell is a client of the firm’s South African arm, DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. However this is the first-time Edinburgh-based Pignatelli and his office have worked directly with the drinks company.

The deal comes months after DLA Piper confirmed that it would shut its Glasgow office (24 January 2013). It is anticipated that the Glasgow office’s 10 partners will relocate to the firm’s Edinburgh office, where there are also 30 jobs available for fee-earners and staff.

This is understood to be a new instruction for A&O, with sources close to the deal saying that CL Financial approached the magic circle firm directly.