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Proximo Takes Majority Control Of Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey In Deal Worth Up To $600 Million

April 27, 2021

Proximo Spirits has acquired a majority stake in Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey via a new long-term deal worth up to $600 million for brand co-founders Conor McGregor, Audie Attar, and Ken Austin. That sum, according Austin, includes the $250 million the team has already earned in the brand’s first two years in business with Proximo, which previously held a 49% stake. Neither the length of the new agreement, nor Proximo’s new stake in the brand were disclosed, though Proximo CEO Mike Keyes told SND that all three founders will retain an interest in the brand and will maintain active roles in the whiskey’s future.

“When we started this business with Proximo, we basically laid out, I’ll call it certain hurdles, that would allow them to buy pieces of the company over time,” said Austin, adding that the brand has now reached approximately 345,000 cases on a trailing 12-month basis. “We hit a milestone and it gave Proximo the opportunity to own a significant stake.” Last spring, Proximo had raised its stake from 20% to 49%. Now it takes majority control of the brand, which is produced at its Old Bushmills Distillery in Northern Ireland.

According to both Austin and Keyes, the new partnership will not substantially alter how the brand is marketed or its identity, though Austin added that he and the team were looking forward to being able to increase their focus on the brand building side of the business as Proximo takes on a larger role in the administrative and financial side.

“Since introducing this brand with Conor and his partners just two and a half years ago, Proper No. Twelve has been the most exciting brand in the Irish whiskey category,” said Keyes. “The brand continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, and this agreement reflects Proximo’s commitment to expanding its presence in the whiskey category as a whole.”

Austin also sees a bright future for the brand, pointing out that McGregor’s international celebrity has been a boon when entering global markets like Russia and South Africa. “It’s hard to predict how long it’s going to take, but I’m looking at a million cases and saying that’s a starting point for this brand,” he said. “Conor is very, very fixated on this being a multi-million case brand. I wouldn’t count him out ever.”

Proper No. Twelve is set to be showcased on the occasion of McGregor’s next MMA bout, taking place this summer. “We are very excited about Conor’s upcoming July 10 fight in Las Vegas, and obviously we are planning a big splash around that event,” said Keyes.—Shane English

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