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News Briefs for December 17, 2012

December 17, 2012

•Alex Guarachi, founder and CEO of TGIC Importers, has launched a direct-to-consumer wine retail website, Wineofakind.com. The site allows consumers to browse wines in every price point from around the world by price, type, region or brand, and purchase bottles to have delivered to their homes. As an opening special, the website is currently offering free ground shipping on all orders for a limited time. All wine available on Wineofakind.com is provided through TGIC Importers, whose wine portfolio includes labels from Argentina, Australia, California, Chile, New Zealand and Spain.

•Pernod Ricard will introduce a new Absolut vodka line extension, Hibiskus, in the U.S. next month. The new entry is a blend of hibiscus and pomegranate flavors that is geared toward the mixology segment but is also mixable in simple concoctions including only one other ingredient, the company says. Absolut Hibiskus is the latest in a line of innovations for the brand including, most recently, a sparkling wine and vodka blend called Absolut Tune, which rolled out in key U.S. markets in October.

•U.S.-sourced wines continued to outperform imports in SymphonyIRI channels in the 52-week period ending December 2. Total table wine sales increased 2.9% by volume during the period, but domestic brands (+4%) outpaced imported labels (-1.9%). Table wines above $20 a 750-ml. remained the fastest-growing segment (+18.4%), while wines below $5 declined collectively. California (+4.1%), Washington (+4.6%) and Oregon (+15.6%) performed well, while imports from Australia (-3.5%), Italy (-1.9%), Chile (-5.7%) and Germany (-13.4%) lagged. Among the top 20 wine brands overall in dollar terms in SymphonyIRI channels, only 20th-ranked Cavit is an import, and it declined 11% during the period, while California brands Barefoot, Cupcake, Ménage à Trois, Rex Goliath and Bogle all enjoyed double-digit increases. The trend is the opposite for sparkling wines, as imports (+16.8%) outpaced domestic brands (+4.3%) in volume terms. Prosecco was the fastest-growing sparkler, up 60.1% during the period, while Champagne declined by 4.7%.

•Diageo is a step closer to gaining control of India’s United Spirits Limited (USL) after USL’s shareholders approved a “preferential allotment” of 10% of the company’s shares to Diageo in a deal worth $381 million. The preferential allotment, along with the proposed acquisition of USL shares from other companies within the empire of USL chairman Vijay Mallya, would bring Diageo’s holding in USL to 27.4% and trigger a mandatory tender offer for another 26% of the company, although the complicated deal remains subject to a number of conditions, including regulatory approval. Diageo has set the date for the beginning of the mandatory tender offer for January 7 at a price of INR1440 ($26.25) a share, but because USL’s share price has soared since the initial agreement was announced on November 9, some observers have suggested Diageo may need to raise its offer to achieve majority control.

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