California wine fever takes hold as multinationals move in

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One week of merger mania in Californian wine has the industry braced for a major consolidation. Larry Walker investigates the dynamics driving the fever for US wine companies. Three major acquisitions in the California wine business in the last week of August have left the industry holding its breath, wondering who will be next. It began with Australia's Foster's Brewing Group buying Beringer Wine Estate for $1.5 billion. Going almost unnoticed, on the same day, Canada's Vincor International bought R.H. Phillips for $92m. Two days later, The Wine Group bagged half a dozen of Sebastiani's high volume brands in a deal believed to be worth $300m-plus. The Foster's deal in particular is likely to prompt further consolidation, experts believe. It has been widely reported that two other Australian wine companies, Southcorp and BRL Hardy are interested in wineries in California.

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