Impact International / April 1, 1997
By Larry Luxner
Bacardi Ltd. says it has sold its minority interest in the Trinidad-based rum and aromatic bitters producer, Angostura Holdings Ltd.
The announcement comes in the wake of speculation that local corporate giant CL Financial, through its Colonial Life Insurance Co. subsidiary, had purchase 45% of Angostura's shares from Bacardi for TT$28 million.
"Our investment in Angostura was made in 1971 to provide our company with an additional source of bulk rum for export," said Bacardi's president and chief executive, Manuel Jorge Cutillas. "Over the years, Angostura has developed a range of other businesses in insurance, real-estate and a substantial investment in a local conglomerate which -- while highly successful -- falls outside of Bacardi's current focus on its distilled spirits business."
Cutillas added: "We expect that our purchases of Angostura rum will continue as long as market conditions are favorable."
CL Financial now owns 65% of Angostura; this also gives CL Financial voting control over Angostura's 20% stake in Neal & Massy, one of the Caribbean's largest industrial enterprises.
Angostura Holdings Ltd. was established 170 years ago by a German-born army doctor, J.G.B.Siegert, in the Venezuelan city of Angostura (today's Ciudad Bolívar).
Today, about 140,000 cases of Angostura aromatic bitters are produced annually by the company's 200 employees; just over half is exported to the United States. "We have bitters in good hotels and restaurants throughout the world," said CEO Tommy Gatcliffe, "but it's a very small part of our business when compared to rum exports." Those exports, worth $20 million a year, consist of Old Oak, Fernandes, Vat 19 and Angostura Premium brands, most of which find their way to the United Kingdom.