Hillhouse Capital is close to a deal to acquire a majority stake in iconic Scottish whisky maker Loch Lomond Distillers Ltd. to expand its portfolio of consumer brands, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Chinese investment firm is in advanced talks to buy Loch Lomond along with the distiller’s management, which will hold a significant minority stake, the people said. A deal would give the business an equity value of $300 million to $400 million, they said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.
An agreement could be announced as soon as Thursday, the people said. Loch Lomond, with its first distillery site dates back to 1814, was bought by London-based Exponent Private Equity in 2014 for an undisclosed amount. The distiller is famous for its single-malt and single-grain Scotch.
Representatives for Hillhouse, Loch Lomond and Exponent declined to comment.
Hillhouse’s existing investments in the consumer industry include pet food company Gimborn and a Chinese joint venture with Peet’s Coffee. It plans expand Loch Lomond in other parts of the world such as Asia, where whisky has become more popular, the people said. The investment firm, founded by Zhang Lei with money from the Yale University endowment, is also backer of companies such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and GrabTaxi Holdings Pte.
Spirit companies in the U.K. have been steadily changing hands in recent years, attracting international buyers with a more globalized distribution network.
In 2017, Pernod Ricard SA sold its Glenallachie distillery to a consortium of investors including Billy Walker. A year earlier, Jack Daniel’s whiskey maker Brown-Forman Corp. purchased the BenRiach single-malt distillery. Diageo Plc’s United Spirits Ltd. unit agreed to sell its Whyte & Mackay spirits business to Philippines-based Emperador Inc. in 2014.