Belfast Telegraph

Campari sells brands to US rival in bid to focus portfolio

Drinks giant Campari has agreed to sell its Carolans and Irish Mist brands to American rival Heaven Hill for 165 million US dollars (£127 million).

It is the largest ever disposal by the Italian group, and comes as it seeks to focus its portfolio on core brands and cut its debt level.

Carolans, an Irish cream alcoholic drink, and Irish Mist, a whiskey liquor, together made up 2% of Campari's turnover in 2016, with combined net sales of 34 million euro (£30 million).

Under the terms of the deal, both brands will transfer to Kentucky-based spirits company Heaven Hills, but Campari will continue to distribute the drinks outside the United States.

The sale is expected to conclude by August 1.

It follows the group's recent divesture of a number of other brands as it whittles down its product range. Last month, it sold its French Chateau de Sancerre winery to Maison Ackerman, marking its exit from wine.

Bob Kunze-Concewitz, chief executive officer of Campari, described the sale to Heaven Hill as "a perfect fit" for the two liquor brands.

"With this transaction, we continue to streamline our non-strategic portfolio and further increase our focus on our priority spirit brands, particularly in our largest and core US market," he said.

"Moreover, thanks to this disposal, we can further accelerate in the reduction of our financial indebtedness. Since the beginning of 2016 we have divested non-strategic assets for a total value of approximately 260 million euros."

Campari bought both brands in 2010 from William Grant & Sons for 129 million euro (£115 million).

Carolans is the second-largest selling Irish cream whiskey liquor worldwide.

Max Shapira, president of Heaven Hill, said Carolans and Irish Mist are "highly complementary" to the group's existing portfolio.

"We look forward to building on the strong success these brands have achieved both in the US and around the world," he added.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.