Financial roundup

Alcoholic drinks movers and shakers

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chardonnay, Constellation brands, Vincor

India's frustration with the Taittinger Champagne sale,
Constellation Brands' final play for Vincor and Diageo's move up
the ratings hit the list.

India frustrated as Taittinger goes home

France's Taittinger Champagne will return to French ownership after Taittinger family members joined native bank Credit Agricole to pay €660m for the brand.

US investment fund Starwood Capital bought the Taittinger family's entire family business for €1.4bn last year, but later said it only wanted their hotel chain. Rumours have swirled since last autumn that Starwood was looking to sell the iconic Champagne brand.

The sale to France's Credit Agricole has caused some controversy, however.

India's United Breweries Group had been in the running for some time, and India's trade minister, Shri Kamal Nath, has since been quoted in the French press questioning the motive for rejecting the United Breweries offer.

Various reports have emerged alleging Taittinger's grape growers were against the Indian bid, and Nath hinted a certain economic nationalism may have been involved.

The suggestion was immediately rejected by his French counterpart Christine Lagarde, but the comments helped to sour otherwise fruitful trade negotiations between France and India in Paris.

Constellation seals Vincor deal

Constellation Brands has proved that patience truly is a virtue by finally getting its hand on Canadian wine group Vincor, after months of waiting in the wings.

US wine giant Constellation paid a total C$1.58bn (€1.1bn) to make Vincor its wholly owned subsidiary. The deal, which has already been cleared by Canadian competition authorities, gives Constellation top spot on the Canadian wine market.

The group has pursued Vincor for several months, although Constellation chairman Richard Sands has repeatedly denied it was a 'must-have' deal.

Analysts criticised Constellation last year for hiding poor organic growth with bolt-on takeovers, a claim the wine firm denied.

Diageo gets an upgrade

Analyst group Merrill Lynch has upgraded Diageo, the alcoholic drinks group, from neutral to buy.

Lynch said Diageo was likely to hit cost saving targets, while its strong brands and solid distribution network made it "well placed to continue to outperform"​.

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