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National Distillers Selling Last of Liquor Business

April 09, 1987|From Times Wire Services

Some big names at the corner bar--Old Grand Dad, DeKuyper cordials, Vat 69 Scotch, Sauza Tequila, and Gilbey's gin and vodka--are being sold to the maker of Jim Beam bourbon for $545 million.

The sale agreement announced Wednesday comes as National Distillers and Chemical Corp. continues to shed the liquor business that gave the company its start 64 years ago and concentrate on the chemical and propane-marketing businesses.

In the announcement, National Distillers said it had a definitive agreement to sell its spirits division to James B. Beam Distilling Co., producer of Jim Beam whiskey and a subsidiary of American Brands Inc. of Old Greenwich, Conn.

Last month, the company sold its Almaden Vineyards wine business for $128 million to Heublein. Coupled with that, Wednesday's sale drains the last vestige of alcohol from a company that was once one of the largest liquor manufacturers in the United States.

"This sale permits us to focus on our core businesses--chemicals and propane marketing," said National Distillers Chairman John Hoyt Stookey. The sale will mean an after-tax gain of $120 million or around $4 a share for the company, according to company spokesman Richard Tilghman.

Asked whether National Distillers, which soon will be out of the distillery business, planned to change its name, Tilghman said there were no immediate plans.

"We won't have an announcement coming out tomorrow," he said, adding that a name change was "secondary to the immediate battle at hand."

Products of American Brands include Carlton, Lucky Strike and Pall Mall cigarettes; Master Locks; Sunshine crackers and cookies, and Jergens personal care products.

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