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National Wine inks merger deal with Dallas wholesaler

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Indianapolis-based National Wine & Spirits Inc. is joining forces with an out-of-state wholesale beverage distributor, presumably to better compete against a rival that won a bitter battle to sell liquor in Indiana.

National announced Wednesday morning that it will become Republic National Distributing Co. of Indiana after Dallas-based Republic National completes the purchase of “certain assets” of National.

Terms were not announced, but both companies are portraying the deal as an equal partnership.

The acquisition follows a November ruling from the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to drop its opposition to Miami-based Southern Wine & Spirits of America Inc.’s request to distribute alcohol in Indiana.  

Even though National controls nearly 60 percent of the Indiana market, it is one-tenth the size of Southern. Southern holds distribution agreements with alcohol manufacturers in 29 states, an advantage that National fears it will leverage to steal away its Indiana contracts.

National should benefit from Republic’s size. It is the second-biggest distributor of premium wine and spirits in the country, with operations in 18 states and Washington, D.C., according to the company’s Web site.  
 
National distributes wine and spirits in Indiana and Michigan, and employs more than 1,000 people in the two states. Republic will have about 7,000 employees following the deal with National.

Phone calls to National seeking comment on the deal were not immediately returned. But, in a written release, National Owner and Chairman Jim LaCrosse said Republic emerged, after a careful review of options, as the clear choice with whom to partner.

“[Republic] has a reputation for its integrity and its commitment to excellence in sales and customer service,” LaCrosse said. “Our combined organizations will ensure our new company will continue to grow.”

LaCrosse has called Southern “the 800-pound gorilla,” warning the commission that Southern would drive his company out of business in Indiana.

The commission’s decision to drop its opposition to Southern was surprising. Its unanimous ruling in favor of Southern reversed two previous rulings—also made unanimously—that denied Southern’s application for permits.

In 2008, the commission turned Southern away because the owners of the company dwell outside Indiana. That residency restriction, however, was effectively nixed in a Sept. 14 opinion by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

The next day, the commission denied Southern again, this time citing anticompetitive behavior in other states.

As part of its agreement with Republic, National announced Chief Operating Officer John Baker will remain in that position under the new structure.

Baker said in the announcement that the transaction will close as soon as the licensing process is completed.

The two companies had been in discussions for several months, Republic President Tom Cole said.

“The addition of Indiana to our organization continues to underscore our commitment to build [Republic] into the best network of wine and spirits wholesalers in America,” Cole said in the release.



 

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  1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

  2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

  3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

  4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

  5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

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