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News Briefs for June 7, 2011

June 7, 2011

• Diageo will be given the option to purchase full ownership of vodka brand Ketel One starting this Thursday, according to analysts at ING. Currently, Diageo owns Ketel One in partnership with the Netherlands-based Nolet family. From June 9, 2011 through June 9, 2013, the Nolets will be able to offer Diageo a 50% stake in Ketel One for $900 million, plus interest. Should Diageo decline the offer, the drinks giant will have to pay $100 million to the Nolet family, who in turn will be allowed to extend the offer to a third party (though Diageo would still have right of first refusal). The Nolet family and Diageo first forged their joint venture in 2008 when Diageo paid $900 million to gain exclusive distribution rights for the brand, which currently moves around 1.86 million cases in the U.S. annually.

• Laurent-Perrier, the world’s fifth-largest Champagne house, has reported a 39.5% increase in net profits to €14.8 million ($21.6m) for the 12 months through March, marking a turnaround from the prior year’s 44% drop. Operating profits and net sales both rose by around 15% to €33 million ($48.3m) and €197.8 million ($289.9m), respectively, helping Laurent-Perrier resume positive net cash flow for the first time in four years. Recovery was most pronounced in the U.K., Germany and the U.S.—where sales all rose by at least 30%—and the group stated that there was “considerable growth potential” in Asia, the Americas and Russia. Last year, Laurent-Perrier’s global volume grew more than 10% to 535,000 cases, according to Impact Databank.

• Online wine retailer Wine.com has reported a 25% rise in revenue to $56 million for the full year ended March 31, 2011, marking the company’s first positive EBITDA and cash flow. Growth accelerated significantly at the end of the fiscal year, as the group’s 2011 fourth quarter revenue jumped 36% on the same period last year. Wine.com says that through its network of licensed warehouses it’s now able to ship to more than 92% of U.S. consumers in 42 states.

Anheuser-Busch is releasing Shock Top Belgian White in 12-ounce aluminum can 12-packs for the first time. Available nationwide this summer, the new “easy-to-transport” packaging joins the brand’s original 12-ounce bottle format and the recently introduced 22-ounce bottles. According to Andy Goeler, vp of import, craft and specialty brands for Anheuser-Busch, Shock Top sales experienced a 24% jump in 2010.

• Monterey, California-based winery Manzoni Vineyards has appointed David Coventry to the role of consulting winemaker. Previously having worked with the Chalone, Cloninger, Morgan and De Tierra labels, Coventry will initially be responsible for overseeing the release of Manzoni’s 2009 Estate Pinot Noir, as well as for the launch of the winery’s first Pinot Gris offering—the Manzoni 2008 Franscioni Vineyard Pinot Gris—which will be available in a limited quantity of 125 cases, priced at $20 per bottle.

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