Olly Wehring

Is Constellation REALLY taking no for an answer?

By: Olly Wehring - 13 December 2005 11:15

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Is this how it ends, then – not with a bang but with a whimper?

After almost three months in the breach, Constellation Brands finally admitted defeat in its attempts to buy Canada-based Vincor International on Friday (9 December). The announcement was accompanied by a statement in which Constellation’s notoriously bullish CEO, Richard Sands, said: “We will move on to other priorities and we will continue to build upon our outstanding track record of delivering growth and value to our shareholders.”

This from a man who, one month earlier, accused Vincor of “changing the rules (for Constellation). They will not give us access to the information unless we give them a firm offer at a price that we don't know what it is.”

Although the official line is that Constellation has walked away from the C$33-per-share bid, as well as the sweeter C$35 (US$30.45) offer, this may not be the end of things, with rumours abounding that the US wine giant hasn’t entirely lost interest in Vincor. Considering the company’s track record of acquisitions in recent times, taking no for an answer can’t be sitting well on Sands’ shoulders.

And with Vincor refusing to open its data room to Constellation unless it made an offer “not a million miles north of C$35,” as a spokesperson for Vincor told just-drinks, could it be more of a case of when and not if Constellation is prepared to make one final push?

The company seems adamant, however, that this is the end of the story. “Life goes on,” a spokesperson for Constellation said yesterday. “We’ve got a business to run.” We here at just-drinks will, naturally keep you posted if that doesn’t remain the case.

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