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Diageo Said to Narrow Whyte & Mackay Suitors Ahead of Final Bids

Diageo Plc narrowed the bidders for its Whyte & Mackay spirits business to suitors including Lion Capital LLP and KKR & Co. LP, according to people familiar with the matter.

Lion, which has handed in the highest bid, is competing against KKR, Thai Beverage PCL, Davide Campari-Milano SpA and a Russian company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The transaction may value Whyte & Mackay at about 400 million pounds ($660 million), the people said. The final round of offers is expected by April 17, they said.

Diageo, the world’s biggest distiller, acquired Whyte & Mackay last year when it purchased control of its Indian parent, United Spirits Ltd. Diageo in November said it offered to sell most of the business to assuage concerns by the U.K. Office of Fair Trading that the acquisition could potentially lead to higher prices in the U.K. for blended whiskey.

London-based Lion, which has held stakes in drinks business including Russian Alcohol Group and Orangina Schweppes, Davide Campari-Milano and ThaiBev declined to comment, while KKR did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment. Diageo declined to comment on the sales process, as did a representative for United Spirits.

United Spirits bought Whyte & Mackay, the maker of Scotch whisky including Jura and The Dalmore, for 595 million pounds in 2007. The company is based in Glasgow, Scotland.

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