Constellation Brands has announced it is to acquire Ravenswood Winery in a deal worth $148m. The company will buy up all outstanding shares in Ravenswood for $29.50 and assume net debt, which it says will be minimal at the time of close.

Constellation intends to finance the deal with up to one-third equity capital and the balance with debt. The company said the transaction and its related financings are expected to be neutral to earnings in Constellation's fiscal year ending February 28, 2002.

Richard sands, chairman, CEO and president of Constellation said: "The addition of Ravenswood to our fine wine portfolio demonstrates Constellation's continued strategic investment in the fastest-growing segment of the beverage alcohol market.

"The acquisition of Ravenswood along with Franciscan Oakville Estate, Simi, Quintessa, Mount Veeder, Veramonte and Estancia gives us the most sought after fine wine portfolio."

For Ravenswood's latest 12 months ended 31 December 200 gross sales and volumes were approximately $37.9m and 444,000 cases, representing an increase of 30% and 25% respectively.

Reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were $11.7m. the company estimates that for the 12 months up to 31 March 2001 this should rise to $12.5m.