Electra Partners set to seal BWG takeover deal within days

BRITISH venture capital firm Electra Partners is expecting to finalise its purchase of BWG wholesalers within days.

The Pernod Ricard-owned BWG, which control the Spar chain, is expected to fetch about 220 million euro.

The wholesaler also owns the Bargain Booze off-licences chain in Britain; Spar convenience stores in the south-west of England and Mace in Northern Ireland. BWG was one of several businesses Pernod Ricard decided to dispose of after it bought Seagram’s drinks business with Diageo last year. Pernod took over BWG in 1988 following its acquisition of Irish Distillers, which had bought the operation in 1984. There had been speculation some months ago that BWG would fetch up to 300 million euro.

While Pernod’s accounts do not give a breakdown of turnover at BWG, it is believed that turnover rose to around 1.5bn euro with nearly 45m euro in operating profits. Pernod Ricard has sold a host of divisions and brands recently, ranging from Orangina to its SIAS fruit preparation unit. Talks are progressing on selling White Satin gin and VAT 19 rum. Pernod turned in profits of 451m euro last year. The group, which is run by Irishman Richard Burrows, saw sales increase to 4.6bn euro worldwide.

Electra Partners is one of Europe’s leading private investment houses, specialising in deals up to 400m euro with 2.5bn euro of funds under management.

It is also believed that ABN Amro Private Equity, the finance arm of the Dutch bank, were also looking at BWG, which employs over 2,000 people in Ireland and Britain. The chief executive of BWG Leo Crawford is expected to stay on and could possibly end up with a small stake in the firm.

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