The US tobacco multinational Altria is selling Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. According to the group, the company will go to the private equity firm Sycamore Partners. The purchase price is US$1.2 billion.
"We believe the transaction is an important step in Altria's value creation for shareholders and will allow our management team to focus more on pursuing our vision of responsibly leading adult smokers to a non-combustible future," said Billy Gifford, Altria's CEO. "Ste. Michelle and its talented staff have built an outstanding portfolio of premium wine brands, and we wish them every success in the future."
"The Ste. Michelle leadership team and I look forward to working with the Sycamore Partners team and believe we are well positioned to drive the next phase of our growth," said David Dearie, president and CEO of Ste. Michelle.
Ste. Michelle Wine Estates includes Washington wineries Chateau Ste. Michelle and 14 Hands, and Stag's Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. There are joint ventures with Antinori, Dr. Loosen and Michel Gassier; the company also organises the marketing of Antinori and Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte in the USA.
Altria will not withdraw completely from the alcohol business. The company owns shares in Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest beer producer. aw