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Gleeson Group Acquire Gilbeys From Diageo

Gleeson Group, the Borrisoleigh, Co.Tipperary based drinks distributor, has acquired the Gilbeys wine business from Diageo in a deal understood to be worth close to €6 million.

The deal was signed off on in recent days and followed approaches from a number of potential bidders. It is understood that Gleeson Group will continue to use the Gilbeys name and that all staff working at the wine firm will transfer to the new owner. Gleeson Group owns and distributes a number of well known brands including Tipperary Water, Finches soft drinks and Bavaria beer.

The firm did a refinancing deal earlier this year, which gave it a €25 million war chest for future acquisitions.

A spokeswoman for Diageo confirmed the transaction had taken place, but refused to comment on the details of the transfer, since the deal was subject to the regulatory approval of the Competition Authority, a process that is expected to take up to three months to conclude.

Diageo, which owns Guinness and Baileys, has had previous dealings with the Gleeson Group, which is owned by the local Cooney family. It sold Finches to the group in 2004, followed by its United Beverage wholesale business in 2005.

Industry sources state that the  Gleeson Group previously controled about 2 per cent of the wine distribution market prior to the deal, while Gilbeys controled about 13 per cent.

Sales at Gleeson Group fell by almost €20 million last year to €230 million, and pre-tax profits were down by 10 per cent to €2.7 million. No dividend was paid to the Cooney family, compared with €2.5 million in 2008.

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