Hicks Muse may join bidders for Allied

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Private equity firms including Hicks Muse Europe are expected to join the bidding for Allied Domecq, the international wines and spirits group, which received a joint takeover approach - likely to be worth more than £7bn - from Pernod Ricard and Fortune Brands last week.

Private equity firms including Hicks Muse Europe are expected to join the bidding for Allied Domecq, the international wines and spirits group, which received a joint takeover approach - likely to be worth more than £7bn - from Pernod Ricard and Fortune Brands last week.

Hicks Muse recently hired Javier Ferran, a senior Bacardi executive with 20 years' experience in the drinks industry, to bolster its buyout team.The London-based fund specialises in buying branded consumer goods companies and is thought likely to be eyeing some of the Allied portfolio rather than trying to take full control of the business. A spokeswoman for Hick Muse said: "They don't want to make any comment."

Hick Muse, led by its managing partner Lyndon Lea, has previously owned Perrier Jouet and Mumm, the champagne brands, which it subsequently sold to Allied Domecq. It also owns Weetabix, and successfully floated Premier Foods, which owns Crosse & Blackwell and Typhoo Tea. Sources close to the Allied situation are expecting other bidders to emerge within the next week. Pernod's advisers are working flat out to complete due diligence and table an offer as soon as possible to steal a march on potential rivals.

But Bacardi, long seen by Allied Domecq itself as an attractive merger partner, has close links with Brown Forman, of the Jack Daniel's brand, and industry insiders believe they could be considering forming a rival joint-bidding vehicle. Diageo, the industry giant, is also thought likely to form close ties with any rival bidding team, in the hope of picking up some of Allied's brands. Its dominant position in most drinks markets means a full bid for Allied would be impossible on competition grounds.

Constellation Brands, the US drinks group, hinted yesterday that it might enter the fray for some of Allied's brands. It has been considered a possible buyer for Allied's wine brands if they are put on the block by Pernod in the event of a takeover. Richard Sands, the chief executive of Constellation, told the CNBC news network in the US that he was more interested in acquiring spirit brands than wines. "Our wine portfolio is very complete," he told the network.

Comments