Following Spanish financial press reports that leading Spanish bank BBVA was in the final stages of a deal to sell its 39.1% stake in winemaker Bodegas y Bebidas to Allied Domecq, the bank has confirmed that it is considering "various alternatives" with regard to its shareholding

In an official note to the Madrid Stock Exchange, BBVA stated that no deal had been done but it was examining a number of different future strategies with regard to its involvement in the wine business.

No one in Allied Domecq was available for comment but financial analysts in Madrid and Bilbao feel it is only a matter of time before some deal is done.

If Allied were to purchase the BBVA stake, Spanish legislation would require that the same offer be made to other shareholders. The alternative would be to purchase less than 25% and then seek control at a future date.

For several months sources close to BBVA have indicated the bank's wish to sell its stake in B & B. Cava producer, Freixenet has been involved in on and off discussions but it would seem that Allied Domecq is now favourite to add to its Spanish brand portfolio.

Neil Everitt, the CEO of Allied Domecq Spain has stated on several occasions it is looking to increase the company's involvement in quality wines and wineries. Allied Domecq have made increasing investments in their Marques de Arienzo winery at Laguardia in Rioja and their crianzas and reservas have a solid reputation in many European markets.

Wines & Spirits in Spain 2001