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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
14 Oct 2003

A denouement at last to the story of who would succeed in acquiring Peter Lehmann Wines which we have been following closely on purple pages. Many thanks to David Schildknecht who passed this on as it was published.

MELBOURNE, 13 October (Reuters) - Allied Domecq Plc ALLD.L, the world's second-biggest sprits group, dropped its A$149 million ($103 million) bid for Australian winemaker Peter Lehmann Wines Ltd on Monday, saying it would sell its stake to a rival bidder.

Allied said it would sell its 14.5 per cent stake in the Barossa Valley winemaker to Swiss-based Hess Group AG [Donald Hess of Napa Valley, Argentina, etc], whose bid had been preferred by Peter Lehmann's independent directors.

Both companies had offered A$4.00 a share cash, but Hess has said it would be happy to be Lehmann's major shareholder and have it remain as a listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The winemaker's founder Peter Lehmann has sold a 5.4 per cent stake to Hess but has said he does not intend to further sell down his remaining 10.5 per cent of the company.

Allied last week dropped its bid conditions in an effort to win shareholder support, but Lehmann's independent directors said on Friday that they preferred the Hess offer.

'We do not believe that it would be in the interests of our shareholders to increase our offer further,' Allied Domecq Chief Executive Philip Bowman said in a statement on Monday.

Before the Allied acceptance, Hess had already built a 6.4 per cent stake in Peter Lehmann Wines. Its offer for the company closes on Friday next week.

'I suspect that there will be quite an avalanche of acceptances now, but the size of that avalanche we don't know,' an adviser to Hess told Reuters.

The Hess offer allows individual shareholders to accept for only part of their holding.

Peter Lehmann Wines independent directors said on Friday that they would meet on Tuesday to make a final recommendation.

Australian wines have established a strong market presence in the United States and Britain and Allied Domecq has been on the prowl to add an Australian producer to its portfolio.

'Australia is a gap but the wine companies have been over-priced,' Allied's Australian spokeswoman Jane Mussared said.

Allied entered the fray to move from being a key shareholder in Peter Lehmann Wines to seeking control, after Hess Group made its move.

Peter Lehmann shares were down 1.5 per cent to A$4.00 at 11:47 am (01.47 GMT) in a wider market up 0.1 per cent. ($1=A$1.45)

MELBOURNE, 13 October (Reuters) - Allied Domecq Plc ALLD.L, the world's second-biggest sprits group, dropped its A$149 million ($103 million) bid for Australian winemaker Peter Lehmann Wines Ltd on Monday, saying it would sell its stake to a rival bidder.

Allied said it would sell its 14.5 per cent stake in the Barossa Valley winemaker to Swiss-based Hess Group AG [Donald Hess of Napa Valley, Argentina, etc], whose bid had been preferred by Peter Lehmann's independent directors.

Both companies had offered A$4.00 a share cash, but Hess has said it would be happy to be Lehmann's major shareholder and have it remain as a listed company on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The winemaker's founder Peter Lehmann has sold a 5.4 per cent stake to Hess but has said he does not intend to further sell down his remaining 10.5 per cent of the company.

Allied last week dropped its bid conditions in an effort to win shareholder support, but Lehmann's independent directors said on Friday that they preferred the Hess offer.

'We do not believe that it would be in the interests of our shareholders to increase our offer further,' Allied Domecq Chief Executive Philip Bowman said in a statement on Monday.

Before the Allied acceptance, Hess had already built a 6.4 per cent stake in Peter Lehmann Wines. Its offer for the company closes on Friday next week.

'I suspect that there will be quite an avalanche of acceptances now, but the size of that avalanche we don't know,' an adviser to Hess told Reuters.

The Hess offer allows individual shareholders to accept for only part of their holding.

Peter Lehmann Wines independent directors said on Friday that they would meet on Tuesday to make a final recommendation.

Australian wines have established a strong market presence in the United States and Britain and Allied Domecq has been on the prowl to add an Australian producer to its portfolio.

'Australia is a gap but the wine companies have been over-priced,' Allied's Australian spokeswoman Jane Mussared said.

Allied entered the fray to move from being a key shareholder in Peter Lehmann Wines to seeking control, after Hess Group made its move.

Peter Lehmann shares were down 1.5 per cent to A$4.00 at 11:47 am (01.47 GMT) in a wider market up 0.1 per cent. ($1=A$1.45)