US: Bacardi approves creation of new share classes

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Additional reporting Chris Brook-Carter Bacardi Ltd. shareholders have approved the creation of two new classes of common stock. The vote is seen as a victory for chairman and chief executive Ruben Rodríguez, who has previously said the privately held company needs more flexibility to consider acquisitions and transactions amid a rapidly consolidating global spirits industry.

Rodríguez declined to comment on today's proxy vote results. While the vote allows for the creation of the new share classes, additional stock cannot be issued without a second affirmative vote by two-thirds of currently outstanding shares.

At this point no public flat is scheduled, and given the market conditions analysts are expecting nothing until at least next year. Rodriguez has said he will only move forward on a possible vote if there is a need to raise capital for a major acquisition.

Though this is being seen as one of the most significant changes to the family-owed company since it was founded in 1862, the changes still ensure the family maintains control in the event of an IPO.

An IPO would create a two-tier company with only 30% of Bacardi's shares being offered to outside investors. Non-family members would also only be able to purchase class-B shares, which would carry the same price as class-A stock but only a tenth of the voting power.

The two classes would also have different rights in election of the board.

Companies: Bacardi Ltd

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