Allied in £61m Lehmann bid

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The Independent Online

Spirits giant Allied Domecq will this week launch a bid worth up to A$149m (£61m) for Australian wine producer Peter Lehmann Wines.

The UK group already owns 14.5 per cent of Peter Lehmann, which earlier this month agreed to be bought by Swiss rival Hess for A$3.50 a share. It is understood Allied's offer will be between A$3.90 and A$4 a share.

That beats Hess's offer but it is not clear the bid would automatically be recommended to shareholders. Founder Peter Lehmann has told shareholders he was backing the Hess deal to prevent Allied taking control.

The deal is an important one for the FTSE 100 company, however. Faced with overwhelming competition from its larger rival Diageo, owner of Guinness and Smirnoff vodka, Allied has expanded into wines in recent years. Under the leadership of its Australian chief executive Philip Bowman, it has spent around £1.8bn on acquisitions since 2000 and has established itself as a player in wine.

Brands now include New Zealand's Montana, California's Clos du Bois and the champagnes Mumm and Perrier Jouet, but Allied has up till now failed to acquire a footprint in the important Australian market.