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Kendall-Jackson Ends Talks With Bidders


Tim Fish
Posted: May 16, 2001

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates has taken itself off the market, less than two weeks after Australian wine giant BRL Hardy Ltd. announced it had made an official bid for the California company. Officials at the Sonoma County-based winery confirmed today that, after considering offers from a number of companies, they were no longer interested in pursuing a potential sale or merger.

"Those discussions have now ended," said Lewis E. Platt, CEO of Kendall-Jackson, in an official statement.

Platt's statement offered few details on why Kendall-Jackson stepped away from talks, saying only: "We believe that remaining an independent, family-owned winery is the best choice for Kendall-Jackson at this time. This is the path we have chosen to follow."

The main sticking point is not the price, according to one source inside the company, who said that most of the offers fell within the $1.3 billion to $2 billion range at which analysts generally value Kendall-Jackson. "It's not about money," said the source, who spoke off the record. "It's about something else."

Kendall-Jackson founder Jess Jackson was not available for comment.

BRL Hardy, which has been Kendall-Jackson's most vocal suitor, confirmed today that an offer it made earlier this month was turned down. Other suitors were rumored to be Fortune Group, Diageo, Allied Domecq and Brown-Forman, some of the biggest wine and spirits companies in the world.

This isn't the first time that Kendall Jackson has considered and ultimately nixed a sale or merger. The winery was reportedly in close talks with Beringer Wine Estates in August 2000, but those discussions fell through. Beringer, instead, was purchased by Foster's Brewing Group of Australia for $1.5 billion.

Kendall-Jackson had twice considered an initial public offering before the market cooled last year. In his statement, Platt said an IPO was not an alternative option to a sale. "We are not considering, at this time, a move into the public capital markets, choosing to instead rely on the same type of traditional bank and private placement financing we have employed in the past."

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Check our recent ratings of Kendall-Jackson wines.

Read previous news about Kendall-Jackson and Jess Jackson:

  • May 4, 2001
    Kendall-Jackson in Play as BRL Hardy Makes Bid

  • Dec. 6, 2000
    Jess Jackson Launches New High-End Sonoma County Winery

  • Nov. 20, 2000
    Jess Jackson, Founder of Kendall-Jackson, Retires

  • June 28, 2000
    Jess Jackson Taps Charles Thomas for Jackson Family Farms Post

  • March 13, 2000
    Jess Jackson Buys Sonoma's Matanzas Creek

  • Nov. 16, 1999
    Kendall-Jackson Hires Hewlett-Packard Chairman as CEO

  • July 31, 1995
    California's Mystery Vintner: Jess Jackson Heads a Premium Vineyard Empire
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