LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Former head of whisky company Whyte & Mackay, Vivian Imerman, has bought a controlling stake in niche South African spirits company TNB, aiming to tap the African emerging middle class's taste for alcoholic drinks.
Once dubbed "The Man from Del Monte" after turning the fruit company around, Imerman paid 200 million rand ($18 million) for the majority stake. He is still interested in buying Whyte & Mackay from Diageo, a spokeswoman said.
The British company is trying to ease antitrust concerns after buying a stake in United Spirits, to whom Imerman sold Whyte & Mackay in 2007 for 595 million pounds ($980 million).
Imerman's investment vehicle, Vasari, said it would use TNB as a way in to "significantly more" investment in new spirits brands and more African markets.
Privately owned TNB sells a range of flavored liqueurs, creams and infused whiskies such as Ponchos, Carvo, Kandi and Fruit Lagoon in South Africa, as well as other markets including Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Australia.
Vasari, set up to invest in consumer goods in emerging markets, has hired SABMiller executive Pedro Lotra to run the TNB business.