Campari Said to Acquire Grand Marnier Distribution Business

  • Deal would boost expansion of French cognac maker's brands
  • Trading in Grand Marnier shares suspended pending announcement

Davide Campari-Milano SpA, the Italian distiller, is set to acquire the global distribution business of French cognac maker Grand Marnier Group to streamline the company’s sales and hasten its expansion, according to a person familiar with the process.

Grand Marnier, which produces cognac, armagnac, pineau and wines, had been working with Rothschild to explore strategic options for the business including a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said in November. Paris-based Grand Marnier’s shares were suspended Monday in advance of an announcement. A deal could be announced as early as Monday, the person said.

Campari shares rose 2.6 percent to 8.16 euros at 2:13 p.m. in Milan, reversing an earlier loss. Grand Marnier has risen 17 percent over the past twelve months, giving it a market value of 427 million euros. Representatives for Campari and Grand Marnier declined to comment.

Grand Marnier’s distribution is currently shared around the globe by champagne maker Moet Hennessy, British distiller Diageo Plc and several independent wholesalers.

Campari, which reported annual sales figures that beat analyst estimates earlier this month, has grown via a string of acquisitions during the nine-year tenure of Chief Executive Officer Robert Kunze-Concewitz. Yet the maker of Wild Turkey bourbon and Skyy vodka hasn’t done a deal since completing two in 2014. The CEO said at the time that the company was looking to take a “pause” from deal-making.

Grand Marnier was founded in 1827 by Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle, who started a distillery producing fruit liquors. Its flagship cognac is often used to make Cosmopolitan cocktails, favored by “Sex and the City” character Carrie Bradshaw and singer Madonna. The company generates about 140 million euros in annual sales, more than half of which comes from the U.S.

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