BREAKING NEWS: CCMP beats Lion Nathan to Independent
Private equity firm CCMP Capital has won the race for Independent Liquor, just-drinks understands.
A source close to the bidding process confirmed to just-drinks late today (12 December) that CCMP, the private equity division of JP Morgan, has teamed up with Pacific Equity Partners to buy the New Zealand company for around NZ$1.3bn (US$896.8m).
The equity firm, which was the majority partner with PEP in the bid, beat Diageo, who had had a shadow bid but did not place a firm bid, just-drinks understands. Nikko Principal Investments also pulled out, followed by Lion Nathan earlier today, the source said.
Lion struggled to finance a bid for Independent, the source claimed, because "they couldn't raise enough capital." The source also noted that Independent was reluctant to sell to Lion in the first place.
"There's an awful lot of bad blood between the two companies," the source said. "Lion in New Zealand tried to put Independent out of business." The source also suggested that it was written into founder Michael Erceg's will that the company should not be sold to Lion Nathan. Erceg died in a helicopter crash last year, prompting the sale of the company.
The sale is set to be announced formally tomorrow morning.
"It will probably be business as usual for Independent Liquor," the source continued, "CCMP will probably put in a few key management people from an organisational perspective, but they won't interfere too much in the actual operations."
Just-drinks also understands that there is a possibility that CCMP will review Independent's distribution structure in Australia. The company had pulled out of agreements with major distributors in the country, but the new management may consider its options in this area, the source noted.
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