The shares of Napa premium wine producer Chalone Wine Group Ltd. continued their ascent Wednesday in anticipation that a second bidder might emerge for the vintner.
In May, Constellation Brands Inc., the world's largest wine company and producer of Paul Masson and dozens of other brands, and Domaines Barons de Rothschild, owner of France's famous Chateau Lafite-Rothschild of Bordeaux, offered $9.25 a share, or about $112 million, for the company.
Chalone shares have climbed steadily since, rising an additional 3% on Wednesday to close up 33 cents at $10.88 on Nasdaq. That's almost 18% above the Constellation-Rothschild bid.
The latest jump in Chalone shares appears to be a reaction to a Wednesday morning regulatory filing by Phyllis Hojel, whose family controls 18.4% of the wine company, making it the second-largest shareholder after Rothschild, which owns 46%.
In the filing by her Tulsa, Okla.-based holding company, HM International Inc., Hojel said she might engage in talks with other parties about a venture that would include Chalone or the sale of all or part of the business. Hojel also said she might not support the Constellation-Rothschild deal if an alternative transaction appeared more attractive.
The Hojel family owns the Monte Xanic winery in Baja California.
A special committee of Chalone's board of directors was expected to report its evaluation of the buyout offer Wednesday but might now extend its self-imposed deadline for making a recommendation, a company spokesman said.
Also on Wednesday, Constellation, which sells Corona beer and other alcoholic beverages, said first-quarter earnings rose 31% because of beer price increases. Net income jumped 31% to $51 million, or 45 cents a share, from $39 million, or 41 cents, a year earlier, the Fairport, N.Y.-based company said. Sales in the three months ended May 31 rose 20% to $927 million.
Shares of Constellation gained 8 cents to $37.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.