Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Seagram's transition predicted as smooth

Pernod Ricard plans few changes in buy

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A top executive of France's Pernod Ricard said Tuesday the company envisions few changes at Joseph E. Seagram & Son's Lawrenceburg distillery when its pending $8.2 billion joint acquisition of Seagram with Diageo Plc is completed.

        Following a visit to the distillery, which employs about 600, Richard Burrows, joint managing director of the Paris-based wine and spirits company, said “ll employees will be invited to join Pernod Ricard in due course.”

        Following a tour of the 153-year-old distillery, Mr. Burrows said he was impressed with the facility and its management.

        Dan Gibb, Midwest operators manager for Seagram, who said Pernod Ricard's focus on wine and spirits bodes well for the distillery because Seagram's was “interested in a lot of other things” such as movies and recording.

        Of the acquisition, which still needs approval by U.S. and Canadian regulators, Mr. Gibb said, "We're looking forward to it.”

        Since Pernod and Diageo, the largest spirits maker, were named winners in the bidding for Seagram there was been a lot of uncertainty among Lawrenceburg employees about what the acquisition could mean for the facility.

        Pernod, which will acquire about 40 percent of Seagram and Diageo the rest, is purchasing Seagram's Extra Dry gin, Chivas Regal scotch and Martell cognac, while Diageo is acquiring Crown Royal and VO Canadian whiskies, 7 Crown whiskey and Captain Morgan rum.

        Although Captain Morgan rum is bottled by Lawrenceburg, an agreement between the two acquirers will allow the product to continue to be made there.

        Mr. Burrows said the Seagram's acquisition will move Pernod Ricard, created in a 1975 merger, from fifth to the third largest wine and spirits producer in the world.

        The acquisition will also deepen its market penetration in the the Americas and Asia, he said.


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