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Mondavi Corporation to split

Top Californian wine company the Robert Mondavi Corporation is undergoing structural changes that insiders say could herald its sale.

The restructuring of the corporation will see it split in to two distinct areas of business. One half will concentrate on the ‘luxury’ wines priced over US$15, including the Mondavi/Rothschild project Opus One. The other half will focus on premium wines under US$15, or what the Mondavi Corporation call its ‘lifestyle’ wines.

Another major change will see the Mondavi family lose its 85% voting control on the board. Although the family’s share in the company will rise to nearly 40%, voting control will drop to the same figure.

Michael and Tim Mondavi, the sons of the nonagenarian father of Napa winemaking, Robert Mondavi, had been responsible for running the company until noted turnaround expert Ted Hall took over as chairman from Michael earlier this year. The move fuelled speculation that a division or a partial or total takeover of the corporation would ensue.

Robert Mondavi has been known to criticise his sons’ running of the company and he said last year that the corporation had to ‘get our image back’.

The company denies that the changes were in preparation for a sale.

Written by Oliver Styles

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