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FREE TO READ - just-drinks' Mergers & Acquisitions database - August 2019

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Here, just-drinks consolidates the M&A activity in the global drinks industry during August, a month that saw a brace of high-profile property divestments and the intensification of the craft spirits shopping spree.

Beer

Anheuser-Busch InBev's incubator unit has sold homebrew equipment company Northern Brewer to a private-equity firm. A-B InBev's ZX Ventures bought Northern Brewer in 2016, at the time stating it was "excited to enter the homebrew space".

Anheuser-Busch InBev has passed on its longstanding option to acquire full control of US craft beer partner Craft Brew Alliance. The global brewer confirmed it will not make an offer to buy the shares it does not already own in CBA.

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Soft Drinks

The Coca Cola Co has sold its New York retail and office building on the city's Fifth Avenue. The divestment, for an undisclosed sum, is to a partnership between property group Nightingale Properties and investment firm Wafra Capital Partners.

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Spirits

Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits is to sell Port brand Porto Pitters as it complies with measures set out by France's competition regulator. The company, which was the subject of a raid by the French anti-trust authority earlier this year, said it will offload Porto Pitters to Portuguese group The Fladgate Partnership.

Campari Group has said it will make EUR80m (US$89m) from the sale of its luxury mansion estate, Villa Les Cèdres. The group, which produces Aperol and Skyy vodka, has reached a preliminary agreement for the sale of the mansion for EUR200m.

Pernod Ricard has bought Firestone & Robertson Distilling, the owner of the TX range of Texan whiskies. The acquisition, for an undisclosed amount, gives Pernod control of Firestone & Robertson's brands and its Forth Worth distillery, which hosts tours and tastings.

Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits continues to shed assets with a proposal to sell Polish distributor Sobieski Trade. The divestment, which comes less than a week after the under-pressure company agreed to sell port brand Porto Bitters, will be to Poland's United Beverages.

Constellation Brands is to sell Canadian whisky Black Velvet to US peer Heaven Hill Brands for US$266m. The sale includes Black Velvet's Alberta distillery and is expected to close later this year, pending regulatory approval. 

Diageo has slightly increased its United Spirits holding, raising its stake in the Indian distiller to 55.2%. The 0.46% increase strengthens Diageo's majority control of United Spirits.

Pernod Ricard has made its second Kentucky Bourbon purchase in as many months, announcing an agreement to buy Castle Brands, the owner of Jefferson's Bourbon, for US$223m. The deal, which was confirmed today, will also give Pernod control of New York-based Castle's other brands, including Gosling's rum and Clontarf Irish whiskey.

Constellation Brands has made yet another craft spirits play in the US< this time buying into North Carolina-based Durham Distillery. The group confirmed the acquisition of a minority holding the six-year-old company, which was founded by husband and wife Lee and Melissa Katrincic.

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No-Alcohol Spirits

Diageo has acquired a major shareholding in non-alcoholic spirits brand Seedlip. The company said today that Seedlip, which became part of Diageo-backed accelerator programme Distill Ventures in 2016, is the first non-alcoholic product to be acquired by Diageo through Distill Ventures.

Wine

Treasury Wine Estates CEO Michael Clarke has promised more vineyard and winery acquisitions as his company bucks sluggish trends in the US and aims to become China's biggest supplier of French wine. Speaking exclusively to just-drinks, Clarke said he is keen to follow the recent purchase of TWE's first assets in Bordeaux with more M&A.

AXA Millésimes, the wine arm of AXA Insurance, has made another vineyard acquisition in Portugal, this time moving for Port and red wine producer Quinta do Passadouro. The division, which owns Quinta do Noval in the Douro valley, confirmed the purchase of neighbouring Passadouro from the Bohrmann family, who also own a namesake winery in the Meursault region of France.

Accolade Wines is considering the sale of another Australian winery after confirming the divestment of Clare Valley's Knappstein Winery. The company said a sales process for Houghton winery in Western Australia's Swan Valley "is continuing".

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Off-Premise

UK retail chain Majestic Wine has agreed a GBP95m (US$115m) sale of its Majestic-branded stores and business operations to an investment group owned by Japan's SoftBank Group. The sale follows Majestic's announcement in March it wanted to offload its bricks-and-mortar namesake business and focus on its online platform, Naked Wines.

On-Premise

Greene King has lined up a near-US$6bn sale to Hong Kong's CK Asset Holdings, fulfilling a prophesy earlier this year that the UK brewer and pub operator would follow Fuller, Smith & Turner with a divestment. The publicly-listed UK company confirmed its intention to sell up to CK Noble, a subsidiary of CKA, which already owns a "small portfolio" of freehold pubs in the UK that are leased to Greene King.

Health & Wellness

Japanese brewer Kirin has ploughed JPY129bn (US$1.21bn) into a cosmetics firm to expand into the health food & beverage category. Kirin will take a 30.3% share of Japan-based FANCL, which makes preservative-free skincare products.

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