Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, among the largest and top-selling wine companies in the U.S., has changed hands.
Altria Group — known for its tobacco products — announced this week that its subsidiary, UST LLC, has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Ste. Michelle business to Sycamore Partners Management, L.P., a private equity firm specializing in consumer, retail and distribution investments.
The deal is an all-cash transaction with a purchase price of approximately $1.2 billion, and the assumption of certain Ste. Michelle liabilities.
“The Ste. Michelle leadership team and I look forward to working with the team at Sycamore Partners, and believe we are well-positioned to drive the next phase of our growth,” says David Dearie, Ste. Michelle’s president and CEO.
Altria expects the transaction to close during the second half of 2021, subject to Sycamore Partners obtaining the necessary financing and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including antitrust regulatory clearance.
Based in the Pacific Northwest, the Ste. Michelle portfolio includes its namesake brand, 14 Hands and many other wine brands.
“We believe the transaction is an important step in Altria’s value creation for shareholders and allows our management team greater focus on the pursuit of our vision to responsibly transition adult smokers to a non-combustible future,” says Billy Gifford, Altria’s CEO. “Ste. Michelle and its talented employees have built an outstanding portfolio of premium wine brands, and we wish them future success.”