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Brown-Forman sells brands

Brown-Forman is to sell Italian wine brands Bolla and Fontana Candida to the company’s Italian partner, Gruppo Italiano Vini (GIV), for an undisclosed sum.

The deal follows GIV’s acquisition of the Bolla winery in 2006 for US$11.1m. The Italian company has been producing Bolla for Brown-Forman since then, and has produced Fontana Candida since 1987.

Bolla was Brown-Forman’s third biggest-selling wine, with sales of more than 1.1m cases in the company’s last fiscal year. However, the brand has been in decline since sales topped 1.5m cases in 2001.

Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga said the deal was part of the company’s continuing efforts to focus on the best opportunities for growth and shareholder return. The company’s profits mostly come from spirits brands including Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort.

The sale of Bolla and Fontana Candida is expected to close before the end of the year. GIV will take over distribution of the brands outside the US on 1 January 2009, and within the US by 30 April.

Written by Richard Woodard

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