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US: Constellation chief lays into Vincor rejection

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Constellation has no intention of upping its bid for Vincor, the wine giant said yesterday (19 October). The comments follow Vincor's rejection of a bid from Constellation worth C$31 (US$26.45) per share earlier this week.

"There's no reason to sweeten the bid," Constellation chief executive and chairman Richard Sands said yesterday. "Our bid is very sweet. If circumstances change, and there was a competing bid, we would evaluate any information that was available and make a decision at that time."

Sands also said that he has not heard of any other parties interested in buying the Canadian-based company, and added he was confident $31 a share is full and fair value. "If before the expiration of our offer, no one shows up with an alternative and Vincor can't bring certainty to some set of prospect, then the shareholder will be facing, 'do we take $31 in cash, or do we let the stock drop to the low $20s?'" he said.

"This run-up that you've seen is based on total speculation, speculation encouraged by Vincor. Basically they're throwing a party and they're concerned no one's coming."

In a conference call with analysts, Sands also warned the directors of Vincor that they are "playing a dangerous game."

"The company (Vincor) has inherent structural problems, including its lack of critical scale in key markets and a lack of marquee brands," such as those of recent Constellation's buyout targets Robert Mondavi and BRL Hardy, Sands said. "In the right hands, Vincor is a company with promise, but it is just not in the same league as these companies."

Sands added that the Vincor board was risking demoralising employees, deteriorating relationships with distributors and generally corroding Vincor's operations by "suggesting that there is a real auction."


Sectors: Wine

Companies: Constellation Brands

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