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Corona brewer Constellation seeking to sell its US wine brands, say sources

Corona brewer Constellation seeking to sell its US wine brands, say sources

The brand, behind both Corona and Modelo beers, is looking to sell some of its US-based wine brands, in a deal that could potentially be worth more than $3bn

This was stated by four people familiar with the matter.

Constellation’s review of its wine portfolio underscores the family-controlled company’s gradual shift to beer and cannabis products targeted towards a younger demographic.

Founded initially as a small wine producer in upstate New York in 1945, the company has grown to be worth more than $40bn—owing to bets on offerings like premium imported Mexican beers.

Constellation, which is now the third-largest brewer in the United States behind Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors, has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs Group to explore the divestitures, the sources also stated.

Among the wine brands that Constellation is looking to sell are Clos du Bois, Mark West, Arbor Mist and Cooks, according to one of the sources. Collectively, Constellation could sell wine brands that generate 12-month earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of more than $260 million.

The sources cautioned that no deal was certain as of yet– and asked not to be identified because the matter remains confidential.

“We continue to focus on driving growth organically and through acquisition and innovation at the higher end of our wine & spirits portfolio, which has consistently grown three- to four-times the US market rate,” a Constellation spokesman said in an emailed statement.

“We are also considering a variety of potential actions to optimize value at the low end of our portfolio, so we can direct our growth efforts and investment dollars more fully towards our focus brands,” the Constellation spokesman added in the statement. “The statement added.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

Wine accounted for 38.6% of Constellation’s consolidated net sales of $7.6bn in the 12 months to the end of February, down from 44.7% of net sales two years ago.

The company’s beer business, on the other hand, has continued to flourish.

 Constellation said this month that its portfolio of international and craft beer brands was the top market share gainer in the US beer industry in the second quarter of this year. The company attributed this to younger drinkers, who continued to shun local beer brands.

The company has also been expanding in the legal marijuana industry, splashing out $3.8bn in August to boost its 10% stake in a Canadian seller of marijuana products Canopy Growth to 38%.

This would not be the first time Constellation has explored divesting some wine brands. In 2016, it agreed to sell its Canadian wine business to Ontario Teachers Pension Plan for about $775mn.


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