Leading Spanish Sherry and brandy producer, Osborne, has acquired 40% of premium mineral water supplier, Solan de Cabras, controlled by the Del Pozo family.

Solan de Cabras has been immersed in legal problems over the last two years concerning the legal ownership of the company.

In August 1999, Barcelona based brewer Damm agreed to acquire 66.67% of the water company from the Garcia Salmeron and the Sanz Gallego families and, despite protests from the Del Pozo family, confirmed the acquisition in September 2000.

But a legal judgement in January 2001 declared the purchase illegal, as the Del Pozo family had a preferential right to purchase before third parties. The Del Pozo family exercised their preferential right and purchased the shares following the legal judgement.

Salon de Cabras will increase shares in circulation by € 30m (US$26.6m) and this new share issue will be subscribed by the Osborne family. This would value the water company in € 75m, some way below the €145m valuation made by Damm. The difference in valuation would seem to be related to the use of different financial criteria as well as the fact that the Osborne stake is not a controlling one.

Osborne with this acquisition continues on its diversification plans. In recent months, it has been investing in vineyards outside of the Jerez de la Frontera area and its restaurant and tapas bar operation via the "5 Jotas" brand has been performing strongly. In June it acquired 25% of Tequila Herradura, the distributor in Mexico of its Magno brandy.