Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for November 21, 2012

November 21, 2012

•Following its agreement to acquire 27.4% of India’s United Spirits Limited (USL) earlier this month, Diageo will launch an open offer from January 7-18 to increase its stake in USL to a potential 53.4%. If enough shareholders accept the offer to bring Diageo up to that level, its investment in USL would total about $2.05 billion. The offer is being managed by JM Financial. With USL shares surging after the announcement of Diageo’s initial investment on November 9, some analysts have suggested the open offer will not result in Diageo gaining a majority holding. Diageo is offering R1,440 ($26.11) a share—which is 35% above the closing price of USL’s shares on September 24, the last business day before the announcement that Diageo and USL were in discussions regarding possible transactions—but USL shares closed Tuesday at R1,762 ($31.95). Were Diageo not to achieve a majority stake through the current route, it could upwardly revise the offer to try and lure more shares.

Foley Family Wines has acquired Sonoma’s Ramal East Vineyard for an undisclosed sum. Located within the Carneros appellation, Ramal East comprises 206 acres planted primarily to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The property will help source Foley’s Chalk Hill Estate brand, which is prepping the launch of a new, lower-priced Sonoma Coast tier. Rolling out in 2013, the range will debut with limited distribution of a 2011 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, followed by wider distribution of 2012 and 2013 Chardonnay and the introduction of a 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. The Ramal East addition follows Foley’s purchase of another Sonoma winery—Alexander Valley’s Lancaster Estate—earlier this month. Jackson Family Wines acquired Ramal West Vineyard in June.

•New York City-based Panache Beverage is set to launch its Alibi American whiskey brand to select U.S. markets. With a suggested retail price of $23.99 per 750-ml. bottle, Alibi will be available first in New York, Florida and New Jersey by Thanksgiving and will expand to Georgia, Illinois, Washington, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Arizona and Nevada in 2013. It’s a corn-based whiskey with rye and malted barley and aged in first-fill American oak casks. Alibi marks Panache’s initial foray into brown spirits. Its other brands include Wódka vodka and Alchemia infused vodka. Panache also entered into discussions this summer to acquire Auckland, New Zealand-based VnC Cocktails.

•Casa Dragones Tequila is releasing a limited-edition luxury bottle to select retailers in the U.S., London and Mexico. The crystal bottle, of which 400 were produced, was designed by artist Gabriel Orozco and incorporates his signature “Black Kites” motif, with each bottle hand-signed, numbered and dated. The Casa Dragones Orozco edition is priced at $1,850 a bottle. Casa Dragones’s core offering—a platinum Tequila blended with a small amount of e


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