Brown-Forman to Divest Italian Wines
Louisville, KY, December 1, 2008 – Brown-Forman announced today the sale of its Bolla and Fontana Candida Italian wine brands to Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV), the Italian company with which Brown-Forman has worked for many years.
Brown-Forman Chief Executive Officer Paul Varga said the decision reflects the company’s evolving portfolio strategy and a continuation of its efforts to focus the time and resources of the company on their best opportunities for growth and shareholder returns. “We’re proud of the work that our employees and partners placed behind the Italian wines, and we will certainly miss the brands.”
Brown-Forman, which has marketed Bolla wines since 1968, acquired a minority interest in the brand in 1972 and by 2000 owned the Bolla trademark and business outright. Brown-Forman has owned the Fontana Candida wine trademark since 1987. GIV has produced the Fontana Candida wine for Brown-Forman since 1987 and began producing Bolla wines for Brown-Forman in 2006.
“Both Bolla and Fontana Candida were nice brands for Brown-Forman over many years, and we’re pleased they will continue on in the capable hands of GIV. We wish Bolla, Fontana Candida, and GIV the very best in their future brand building efforts,” stated Varga.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in December and GIV will assume responsibility for Bolla in all markets outside of the United States on January 1, 2009. In the United States, both Bolla and Fontana Candida will be transferred to GIV no later than April 30. Effectively, Brown-Forman will serve as an agent for these brands in the U.S. until the transfer is completed.
Brown-Forman Corporation is a producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Canadian Mist, Fetzer, Korbel, Gentleman Jack, el Jimador, Tequila Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, Tuaca, and Woodford Reserve.
Important Note on Forward-Looking Statements:
This release contains statements, estimates, or projections that constitute “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Generally, the words “expect,” “believe,” “intend,” “estimate,” “will,” “anticipate,” and “project,” and similar expressions identify a forward-looking statement, which speaks only as of the date the statement is made. Except as required by law, we do not intend to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. We believe that the expectations and assumptions with respect to our forward-looking statements are reasonable. But by their nature, forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that in some cases are out of our control. These factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from Brown-Forman’s historical experience or our present expectations or projections. Here is a non-exclusive list of such risks and uncertainties:
• continuation of the U.S. or global economic downturn or ongoing turmoil in world financial markets and related credit and capital market instability and illiquidity; decreased consumer and trade spending; higher unemployment; supplier, customer and consumer credit problems, etc.;
• pricing, marketing and other competitive activity focused against our major brands;
• continued or further decline in consumer confidence or spending, whether related to U. S and global economic conditions, war, natural disasters, terrorist attacks or other factors;
• tax increases, changes in tax rules or rates (e.g., LIFO treatment for inventory), tariff barriers, and/or other restrictions affecting beverage alcohol, whether at the U.S. federal or state level or in other major markets around the world, and the unpredictability or suddenness with which they can occur;
• limitations and restrictions on distribution and marketing of our products, including advertising and promotion, from stricter governmental policies in the U.S. or our other major markets;
• fluctuations in the U.S. Dollar against foreign currencies, especially the British Pound, Euro, Australian Dollar, Polish Zloty and the South African Rand;
• reduced bar, restaurant, hotel and other on-premise business, including consumer shifts to discount stores and other price sensitive purchases and venues;
• changes in consumer preferences, societal attitudes or cultural trends that result in the reduced consumption of our premium spirits brands or our ready-to-drink products;
• changes in distribution or agency arrangements in major markets that temporarily disrupt our business, reduce our sales, limit our ability to market or sell our products, or entail exit costs;
• adverse impacts as a consequence of our acquisitions, acquisition strategies, integration of acquired businesses, or conforming them to the company’s trade practice standards, financial controls environment and U.S. public company requirements;
• price increases in energy or raw materials, such as grapes, grain, agave, wood, glass, and plastic;
• changes in climate conditions, agricultural uncertainties, our suppliers’ financial hardships or other supply limitations that adversely affect supply, price, availability, quality, or health of grapes, agave, grain, glass, closures or wood;
• negative media related to our company, brands, personnel, shareholders, operations, business performance or prospects;
• counterfeit production, tampering, or contamination of our products and any resulting negative effect on our sales, intellectual property rights, or brand equity;
• adverse developments stemming from state or federal investigations of beverage alcohol industry marketing or trade practices of suppliers, distributors or retailers; and
• impairment in the recorded value of inventory, fixed assets, goodwill or other acquired intangibles.