Glen’s Vodka maker Loch Lomond bought in Chinese-backed deal

The maker of Glen’s Vodka has been snapped up by Chinese buyout firm Hillhouse Capital for more than 500 million US dollars (£393 million).

Loch Lomond Group, which also makes the Glen Scotia, Loch Lomond and Littlemill whisky brands, has been sold following a five-year transformation programme to expand the business internationally.

The company, which employs more than 200 people, was established in Scotland in 1842 and remained family-owned until it was bought by private equity giant Exponent in 2014 for an undisclosed sum.

It is understood that the distillery business has been sold for between 500 and 550 million US dollars (£393-£430 million).

Loch Lomond has invested heavily in the growth of its premium whisky brands and their expansion overseas in recent years, with more than 70% of group revenue now coming from international markets.

The sale to Hillhouse is expected to drive an expansion of its brands across Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing booze markets.

The business saw sales jump 4.6% to £52.9 million in the year to September 2018, while operating profits rose to £781,000 for the period.

Loch Lomond chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Over the past five years we are proud to have transformed the Loch Lomond Group into a premium international spirits business with a strong focus on innovation and a portfolio of award-winning brands.

“We believe now is the right time to move forward into the next stage of our growth strategy as we look to innovate further, extend our portfolio of brands and continue to expand our international presence, particularly in Asia where Hillhouse has significant experience.”

Wei Cao, partner at Hillhouse Capital, said: “Loch Lomond’s rich heritage in Scotch whisky gives the business a distinct advantage as they look to further build on their success across the world, especially in the increasingly discerning Asian spirits market.

“Hillhouse’s experienced operational team will work closely with Loch Lomond’s management to help it offer a premium consumer experience in international markets through channels like e-commerce and new retail.”

Mark Taylor, of Exponent, said: “We are delighted with the successful sale to Hillhouse, and we believe they will be great partners for the business.”