KWV Limited is gearing itself for the next and hopefully last hurdle of its quest to establish a 25.1% black economic empowerment (BEE) equity deal, as it prepares to request that its predominantly white shareholders relinquish up to 25% of their shares in the company.

At stake in the BEE deal are 112,428,740 KWV shares, at a price of R1.85 a share. The offer opens today and will be available until 24 August 2004.

The company's push for this BEE deal was side-tracked last month by a drive by Anglo African Trading to purchase shares at R1.60 a share. This caused it to have to speed up its negotiations with its BEE consortium partner, Phetogo, and also counter the AAT deal with the R1.85 a share offer.

It was then forced to into two weeks of wrangling with trade unions, which saw the share composition of Phetogo altered in favour of the company's workers, who claimed it favoured a small elitist group of non-white businessmen.

Between the KWV Employee Empowerment Trust (KEET) and the broad-based Black Association of the Wine & Spirit Industry (BAWSI), unions will now control 52% of the Phetogo, giving them significant backroom power on the KWV board.