Mexican tequila maker Jose Cuervo launches IPO

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Jose Cuervo, the world’s oldest and biggest tequila maker, has launched its long awaited IPO.
The company, known officially as Becle, said in a filing with the Mexican stock exchange that the issue was for up to 17.5bn pesos ($853.2m), including a so called greenshoe option that lets underwriters sell additional shares.

Without the greenshoe, Cuervo said the total amount was 15.3bn pesos. The price range is 30 to 34 pesos per share.

The size of the issue is slightly below initial expectations of a $1bn float when the company talked about going public last year, but above latest forecasts of a $750m offering, writes Jude Webber in Miami.

Cuervo had put the IPO on ice in November in the wake of the US elections, which unleashed turmoil in Mexican markets. But a positive start to the year for the Mexican stock market made the deal attractive again.

Cuervo has 27.4 per cent of the US tequila market and the company said in its listing prospectus that 67 per cent of its 2015 sales were to the US and Canada, meaning the peso currency’s 12 per cent fall against the dollar since the US election makes Mexican exports cheaper.

Cuervo’s total sales in 2015 were 19.8bn pesos, according to the prospectus.

Jose Cuervo’s on-again, off-again listing was pulled last year four years after Diageo, world’s biggest spirits group, gave up on plans to buy it.

Donald Trump’s victory sparked a hammering of the peso and falls in the stock market amid nervousness whether he would follow through on plans to rip up Nafta, the North American Free Trade Agreement in force since 1994.

The company, a rare independent for its size in a drinks sector dominated by conglomerates, has been making tequila, a liquor distilled from the native agave plant, since the 1700s when Spain still ruled Mexico.

It has a stable of 30 brands including Bushmills Irish whiskey and Kraken rum and said in its listing prospectus that it would use the IPO proceeds to boost growth, either organically or through acquisitions.

In Mexico, the listing agents are Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Santander and GBM. Internationally, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan are handling the issue.

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