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SEAGRAM FINDS BUYER
FOR LIQUOR ASSETS

Liquor Assets? Shouldn’t I Meet Her Folks First?
Diageo and its partner, Pernod-Ricard, are poised to buy Vivendi Universal's recently acquired wine and beverage business for about $8.2 billion.

The liquor component of Vivendi Universal, once an integral part of Seagram before the Canadian giant was purchased by Vivendi, was expected to be sold as soon as the merger of Seagram-Vivendi passed regulatory approval. The deal was given the green light earlier this month (hitsdailydouble.com, 12/8). Vivendi Universal reportedly set a minimum of $8 billion as a sales goal for its booze business.

Vivendi Universal, through Seagram, houses such popular brands as Chivas Regal Scotch, Martell cognac, Crown Royal Canadian whiskey and Captain Morgan spiced dark rum, and distributed Absolut vodka. Diageo, which is the parent company of Burger King and Guinness, has Johnnie Walker Scotch, Smirnoff vodka, Gordon's gin and Baileys liqueur, while Pernod's brands include Wild Turkey bourbon, Jameson Irish whiskey, Havana Club rum and France's traditional aniseed spirits, Ricard and Pernod.

According to The New York Times, Diageo and Pernod are preparing to sign a deal as early as today (12/18)—with an announcement scheduled for Tuesday (12/19)—for the purchase.

After a tense weekend of negotiations, sources told the Times that the parties were close to an agreement. Seagram reportedly tried to persuade a rival suitor, a consortium made up of Bacardi, Brown-Forman and Vin & Sprit, to raise its offer of just less than $8 billion before agreeing to the Diageo bid, sources told the paper. That troika, however, were unwilling to boost their offer, paving the way for Diageo and Pernod.

The newly named Vivendi Universal was christened the world's No. 2 media company when the Seagram-Vivendi merger was approved by U.S. and European regulators.

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