Is the deal agreed to by major distributors just days ago to carve up Allied Domecq
The world's largest wine maker, Constellation Brands
Constellation is said to be interested primarily in Allied Domecq's considerable cellar of wine labels, including Clos du Bois and Mumm Champagne. Allied Domecq also owns wineries in California, Spain, and New Zealand. Constellation owns Robert Mondavi, Banrock Station, and Stowells and would undoubtedly sell off the liquor and spirits portion of its business if the counteroffer were accepted.
To make the deal work, Constellation's offer would either have to be of greater value than the $14 billion Pernod Ricard and Fortune hammered out last week, or it would have to be "preferable," that is, offer more cash and fewer shares of stock. Pernod Ricard's offer was primarily an 80-20 split, but its shares on the Paris bourse have been stagnant until just recently. Constellation Brands' stock, on the other hand, has nearly doubled over the past year.
But with a $6 billion market cap, Constellation Brands is much smaller than Pernod Ricard, Fortune, or even Allied Domecq for that matter, and would need to bring in other partners to complete the transaction, particularly if it wanted to do an all-cash deal. Both Brown-Forman
Diageo, as the world's largest spirits company, could make a bid on its own but would probably face regulatory hurdles if it were the leading bidder in any offer. By playing a supporting role, it could perhaps still acquire some important brands to add to its roster. Even so, analysts think the counteroffer might be difficult to pull off anyway simply because of those antitrust issues. Pulling in another company -- Bacardi has been subject to rumors -- might be a problem because of the size of the deal, and Bacardi recently acquired Grey Goose vodka. It might not be willing to make another deal so soon. The industry in general has been undergoing consolidation and is creating large powerhouse multinationals, fueling companies' need to continue acquiring competitors just to remain afloat.
It's also rumored that Japanese beverage firm Suntory is looking at making a counteroffer in conjunction with French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH. Under Britain's Takeover Code, any competing bid may be evaluated for 42 days, a reason behind Allied Domecq's decision not to sign an exclusivity deal with Pernod Ricard. It's willing for the price to be bid up, and indeed, its shares jumped on the London exchange on news of the possible competing offers.
Allied Domecq has been the subject of takeover rumors in the past, but this time it seemingly will be last call for the company, even if the original deal is shaken and stirred.
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Fool contributor Rich Duprey has taken to drinking "girlie" drinks. He does not own any of the stocks mentioned in the article.