Investors who enjoy following either the wine and spirits business or the ins and outs of the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) scene, or both, might be interested in the recent news headlines about California winery Golden State Vintners
Last week, the company issued a press release saying that an investor group, including CEO Jeffrey O'Neill and other stockholders, had boosted its offer to take the company private to $7.80 per share in cash -- a total consideration of about $106 million including debt. Given the company's trading history in recent months, anyone who bought into shares in 2003 has to be pretty happy.
Some investors, however, think they'll be happier soon. That's clearly evidenced by the fact that Golden State's shares finished Friday's session at $7.90. But why would anyone pay more than management's stated buyout price? Surprisingly, it's a strategy that's worked wonders in recent months. In late February, the company said it received two buyout offers -- and the shares started climbing. (This story actually began last September, when the company announced a reverse stock split and plans to go private, which it postponed in January.)
In March, Golden State agreed to an offer from O'Neill's group and a $6.85-per-share buyout offer. Shortly afterward, however, O'Neill was outbid by the Wine Group, a San Francisco company that owns several wine brands and is a top U.S. producer. The CEO's group raised its offer late last month, the Wine Group upped its offer (after first withdrawing from the bidding, and then changing its mind), and then we came to last Wednesday.
Perhaps emboldened by the Wine Group's change of heart, some investors clearly believe this battle isn't over. With the company reporting respectable fiscal first-half income statement and balance sheet numbers in February, it appears the makings of a solid company are sitting in Golden State. Who'll be running that company, however, remains the key question.
Trying to game this situation is probably an iffy proposition for most investors new to the story, but it's nevertheless a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
Talk about your latest great bottle on The Wine Cellar discussion board.
Fool contributor Dave Marino-Nachison doesn't own shares of Golden State Vintners.