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Round-up: Foster's reels in Southcorp

30-May-2005

Foster's has Aussie firm Southcorp in the palm of its hand after increasing its stake in the wine company to more than 90 per cent, reports Chris Mercer.

The move means Foster's would have the right to acquire Southcorp without consulting remaining shareholders after the brewer's extended offer deadline of 3 June.

"Together we have created the world's leading premium wine company - and the only Australian consumer goods company to achieve global category leadership - as well as Australia's leading multi-beverage business," said Foster's president Trevor O'Hoy.

 

Foster's is set to pick up Southcorp's strong wine brands such as Lindemans, Rosemount and Penfolds, enabling it launch a formidable 'brand Australia' on the world wine market.

 

The firm said it would conduct a business review of Southcorp before launching an integration process between its own subsidiary, Beringer Blass Wine, and Southcorp.

 

Integration will focus mainly on back office and support divisions in the short term with Southcorp's sales and marketing teams set to stand alone until early 2006. 80 per cent of the integration will take place in Australia.

 

Allied sets date for Pernod vote

 

Allied Domecq announced it would hold an extraordinary general meeting on 4 July to allow shareholders to vote on the offer by Pernod Ricard.

 

Pernod's £7.4bn (€10.3bn) offer is still the only concrete bid on the table despite negotiations between Allied and a consortium led by US Constellation Brands.

 

At the time of publication, shares in Allied Domecq had fallen five pence to 692p. If Pernod is successful, it will become the world's largest wine and spirits group if successful, grabbing core spirits brands such as Beefeater gin, Malibu and Stolichnaya vodka as well as premium wines including Montana and Campo Viejo.

 

The firm said it planned to sell a range of Allied's brands, including Canada Club and Courvoisier, to US firm Fortune Brands for £2.8 million (€4.1 million) cash if its bid is successful.

 

Geographic indicator upheld for Napa

 

Any wine with the word Napa on the label must contain Napa wine, the California Court of Appeal has ruled, upholding the arguments of local Napa Valley vintners against the Bronco Wine Company.

 

The tussle has been bouncing around the courts since 2000, when California passed a state law banning the use of 'Napa' if the wine did not meet the geographic indication present in federal labelling requirements.

 

Bronco may appeal the decision in the California Supreme Court, though its arguments were dented earlier this year when the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case.