Brown-Forman Looking for Wine Unit Suitor


Jack Daniel’s whiskey maker Brown-Forman (NYSE:BFA) has decided to sell its wine business, and is now looking for a suitor, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing people close to the matter.

The Louisville, KY-based alcoholic beverage producer has hired Rothschild to run the auction process, with bids anticipated to come from private-equity firms and other global wine and spirits companies, according to the report, which notes that the unit is expected to sell for a few hundred million dollars.

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The move would follow Brown-Forman’s sale its Italian wine brands in December 2008.

The news is the latest in a wave of industry cutbacks amid struggling sales and ailing demand.

Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), the world's largest vintner by sales under several brands including Robert Mondavi, is apparently close to selling the bulk of its non-US wine portfolio to an unknown buyer, according to the Journal.

The potential sale of its UK and Australian divisions could generate bids as high as $300 million or $400 million, the sources said.

Foster's, meanwhile, an Australian wine and beer maker, recently rejected a bid for its wine business from a suitor reported be private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO), Jim Beam maker, sold its US wine business to Constellation for $885 million about three years ago.

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