Klein & Wilson

European conglomerate buys Sonoma winery

Are California wineries rivaling their big business counterparts in Europe? A recent business acquisition by Pernod Ricard, a French wine and spirits conglomerate, suggests that California’s winemakers were doing something right.

The conglomerate, which readers may better recognize as the maker of Absolut vodka, Beefeater gin and Glenlivet Scotch whiskey, recently purchased Kenwood Vineyards in Sonoma. The details of the acquisition are not yet public, but at least one report estimates the transaction to be under $100 million. 

As an attorney knows, there are many legal steps involved in the acquisition of a business. The due diligence process often requires a listing of the assets, taxes and liabilities of the target business. In addition, a purchase and sale contract may plan for many different contingencies and address a very comprehensive list of subjects.

Yet not even the most thorough contract preparations can be a total guarantee against a business dispute. When one party to a proposed business acquisition or merger alleges a breach of contract, there is a strong likelihood that a business trial lawyer will be needed. When millions of dollars are at stake, a business would be well advised to seek out an attorney with experience in representing big companies.

A business trial attorney may have strategies that will preserve a party’s interest, such as filing a reciprocal breach of contract claim against the opposing party. If expert testimony is needed to interpret terms in a purchase and sale agreement, based on the meaning customarily assigned to them by a particular trade or industry, an attorney may also have experience and connections for arranging that testimony.

Source: San Francisco Business Times, “Pernod Ricard buys Sonoma winery, thirsty for more,” Chris Rauber, April 24, 2014

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