Constellation Brands Sells Canadian Wines, Acquires Stake in Craft Distiller

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There has been a bit of a shake-up in the wine and distilled spirits industry Monday morning. Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE: STZ) confirmed a rumored sale of its Canadian wine business to the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan for about C$1 billion ($784 million).

At the same time, Constellation announced that it has acquired the Charles Smith Wines collection for about $120 million. These include five super- and ultra-premium wines, including Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Velvet Devil Merlot, Boom Boom! Sirah, Eve Chardonnay and Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon.

Separately, Constellation said it has acquired a minority stake in craft distillery Bardstown Bourbon Company. Neither the size of the stake nor the price were disclosed. The company also said that it has closed its acquisition of High West Distillery, another foray into the high-end craft distillery business.

Constellation Brands President and CEO Rob Sands said:

In April, we announced plans to explore an initial public offering for a portion of our Canadian wine business as part of our strategy to focus on premium, high margin and high growth brands. We seized the opportunity to sell the entire business in a value enhancing transaction when it presented itself. The Canadian wine business is the leader in the Canadian wine market and is a long-term growth opportunity. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is well-respected with a proven track record for supporting and growing their investments, so we know the business will be in good hands.

Constellation Brands expects to receive cash proceeds, net of repayment of outstanding debt, of approximately C$750 million, subject to closing adjustments, and expects to recognize an after-tax gain for fiscal 2017, which will be excluded from the company’s comparable basis diluted earnings per share.

Regarding the Bardstown Bourbon investment, Senior Vice-President Ben Dollard said:

This is an exciting and unique investment for Constellation, and different than the venture activity we’ve explored to date. Investing in a state-of-the-art bourbon facility at Bardstown provides us access to knowledge and production capability to support our emerging premium spirits portfolio over time. At the same time, Bardstown will grow with our investment as well as our experience in the beverage alcohol space, our relationships within the industry and our people.

Investors bid the stock down more than 1% Monday approaching the noon hour to $167.51, in a 52-week range of $130.23 to $173.55. The stock’s consensus 12-month price target is $180.25.