Fortune wines sold to Constellation

16 November, 2007

Drinks giant Constellation is to buy Fortune Brands' US wine business for $885 million (£427 million).

The sale includes wine brands Clos du Bois, Geyser Peak, Wild Horse, Buena Vista Carneros and Gar y Farrell, as well as the associated vineyards, winemaking assets and sales organisation.

Fortune Brands initiated the sale after a review and the process resulted in multiple offers for the wine business.

It will now focus on it s spirits and fortified wines, including Harveys sherry and Cockburn's port brands.

Chairman and chief executive Norm Wesley said: "Because the wine industry is lower

margin and more capital intensive than spirits, it's naturally a lower-return segment relative to our spirits business. This sale increases our financial flexibility and will enable us to focus resources on the higher-return premium spirits segment of our business."

A spokesman for Constellation said it was too early for the company to comment on its UK plans for the wine brands. The deal should be complete by the end of December.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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