Jameson manufacturer returns €2.8bn to Pernod Ricard

Payment by Irish Distillers part of parent company’s ‘balance sheet restructuring’

American oak barrels containing Jameson whiskey, produced by Irish Distillers, at its distillery in Midleton, Co Cork

American oak barrels containing Jameson whiskey, produced by Irish Distillers, at its distillery in Midleton, Co Cork

 

The success of Jameson whiskey around the world over the past three decades has allowed Irish Distillers to pay €2.8 billion to its French parent company, Pernod Ricard.

The transfer is revealed in filings with the companies office by Comrie Ltd, the holding company for Irish Distillers, which owns Jameson and a range of other spirits brands.

Irish whiskey has been on a strong run in recent years. Volume sales rose by 11 per cent in 2016 to 8.7 million cases. Tullamore Dew, owned by William Grant & Sons in Scotland, was the second-best seller, passing the 1 million cases-a-year mark in 2016.

The documents show that Comrie reduced its reserves and capital levels to pay €2.8 billion to Pernod Ricard last month. Before the transaction, Comrie had total assets of just under €5.8 billion.

A spokesman for Pernod Ricard confirmed the transactions, describing it as a “simple internal balance sheet restructuring aimed at streamlining the capital structure of Pernod Ricard’s Irish companies, whereby previously invested capital was returned to the ultimate shareholder”.

“It is normal procedure and good management to periodically review the capital structure,” he added.

Comrie has also paid substantial dividends to Pernod Ricard in recent years, returning €215.8 million between 2014 and 2015.

Jameson has seen 27 consecutive years of growth and achieved sales of more than 5.8 million cases in 2016, a rise of 12 per cent on the previous year. It accounts for about two-thirds of all Irish whiskey sales globally.

On Friday, Dublin-based Teeling Whiskey, which is only five years old and was founded by Irish businessman Jack Teeling, announced that Bacardi, the family-owned maker of white rum, had taken a minority stake in the business and would distribute its products in the US.

Irish Distillers’s whiskey brands also include Powers, Midleton and Redbreast. Its broader portfolio includes Huzzar vodka, West Coast Cooler and Cork Dry Gin.

Global growth

The Irish Distillers spokesman said the reduction in its reserves would have no “operational” impact on its business here, nor its “ongoing investment in Ireland to ensure the continued global growth of the Irish whiskey category or its growing contribution to the economy”.

Since 2012, Irish Distillers had invested about €250 million in Ireland, doubling its production and bottling capacity to meet global demand for its products, he said.

Irish Distillers brands are exported to more than 130 markets, with more than 60 of those experiencing double- or triple-digit growth. The company was formed in 1966, when a merger took place between John Power & Son, John Jameson & Son and Cork Distilleries Company. In 1988, it was acquired by Pernod Ricard, which has since invested heavily in its brands to drive sales globally.

The spokesman said Irish Distillers was a “key asset” for Pernod Ricard, with Jameson being one of its leading international brands.