Hidden Billionaire Garavoglia Pouring Campari Fortune

Hidden Billionaire Garavoglia Pouring Campari Fortune

Jillkerry Ward, a 37-year-old bartender at upscale French restaurant Le Cirque in New York, grabbed a glass Friday night and poured a negroni: two parts gin, a splash of sweet vermouth and two shots of Campari.

“We probably pour 10 to 15 of these every night,” she said, garnishing the cocktail with an orange. “It’s a classic.”

Davide Campari-Milano SpA (CPR), which sells the bitter aperitif and is Italy’s largest maker of alcoholic beverages, has doubled in value in the last five years and reached a record in October as demand for Campari in Italy increased. Thirst for the company’s other brands, such as Skyy vodka and Wild Turkey bourbon, has expanded in the U.S. and Brazil as well.

The surge has made 79-year-old Rosa Anna Magno Garavoglia Italy’s oldest known female billionaire. Garavoglia, who controls a 31 percent economic interest in the company, has a net worth of at least $1.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. She has never appeared on an international wealth ranking.

The company, based in Milan, had revenue of 1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in revenue in the last 12 months, up 30 percent over its fiscal year 2009 sales. It controls more than 45 brands in 190 countries, including the rights to produce and distribute Jagermeister liqueur and Glenfiddich Scotch whisky.The company has been on a buying binge, spending more than $1 billion since 2007 to acquire eight beverage companies in the U.S., Europe and emerging markets such as Brazil and Jamaica. More than three-quarters of its sales come from spirits, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Red Passion

“Campari has taken positive steps to get products that have credibility with the connoisseurs and have mass appeal,” Josh Harris, co-founder of The Bon Vivants, a San Francisco- based company that consults for liquor brands, said by phone Feb. 28. “What they are doing is phenomenal.”

Garavoglia controls 60 percent of Milan-based Alicros SpA, a family holding company, according to Italian regulatory filings. Alicros owns 51 percent of Davide Campari-Milano, the documents show. She inherited the stake from her late husband, Domenico Garavoglia, a Campari executive who received it from company’s last living heir in 1982.

Two of Garavoglia’s three children — Campari chairman Luca Garavoglia, 44, and Alessandra Garavoglia Forloni — split a fortune valued at more than $900 million. Chiarra Bressani, head of group communications at Campari, said the family declined to comment on their net worth and does not grant interviews.

Loyalty Reward

Campari traces its roots to Novara, a city 34 miles (55 kilometers) northwest of Milan, where Gaspare Campari opened a cafe in 1860, according to the company’s website. He began developing his own drink concoctions, the most famous of which was the aperitif that eventually adorned the family name. Campari’s son, Davide, began selling the beverage, which was nicknamed Red Passion

Domenico Garavoglia, who held a degree in industrial chemistry, joined the company in 1952. Nine years later, he was put in charge of the Red Passion recipe, which is still a closely-guarded secret, according to Campari’s website.

Angiola Maria Migliavacca, the last heir of the Campari family, retired and made Garavoglia managing director in 1976. The company passed to Garavoglia six years later as a reward for his loyalty. He died in 1992.

His son, Luca, became chairman in 1994. A year later, he bought the Italian soft drinks portfolio of Utrecht, Netherlands-based Royal Wessanen NV for 35 percent of Campari. The company sold shares in an initial public offering in 2001, leaving the family with 51 percent of the equity.

Skyy Vodka

At the time, Garavoglia’s eldest daughter, Maddalena Garavoglia, accused her family in Milan civil court of forcing her out of the company. A judge sided with Maddalena in 2006, forcing her mother and two siblings to pay her 100 million euros.

The family has since diversified its holdings beyond Campari. Alicros acquired 50.4 percent of Trevisan Cometal SpA, a Verona, Italy-based aluminum engineering operation, for 95.5 million euros in 2007. The company went into bankruptcy two years later after failing to renegotiate its debt.

Alicros also owns real estate companies Immobiliere San Gottardo, Roma and Lubita, which are valued at about 56 million euros, according to the company’s annual report.

Campari bought an 8.9 percent stake in San Francisco-based Skyy Spirits LLC, the maker of Skyy Vodka, in 1998. It acquired another 50 percent of Skyy for $239 million about two years later, and another 30 percent for $156 million in 2005.

Buying Spree

The company’s expansion into the U.S. continued with the 2009 purchase of the Wild Turkey brand of Kentucky bourbon for $575 million from from Paris-based Pernod Ricard (RI) SA. Campari Chief Executive Officer Bob Kunze-Concewitz said in August 2011 that the company will continue to make acquisitions to expand.

That month it spent $26 million to buy Sao Paolo-based Sagatiba Brasil, producer of a sugar-based spirit called cachaca, which used to make caipirinha cocktails. The company bought Lascelles DeMercado & Co., the Jamaican maker of Appleton rum, last September in a deal valued at $414.8 million.

Still, about a third of Compari’s sales are generated in Italy, where the economy, saddled with $2.6 trillion in debt, has contracted for 18 straight months. Italian political instability, after last week’s election ended in a four-way split, threatens to reignite concern about the deepening of its debt crisis.

Campari missed earnings estimates in November, which Kunze- Concewitz blamed on the country’s economic woes. Its annual sales growth has dropped to 4.8 percent from 15.3 percent in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

‘Increasingly Complex’

More analysts are bearish on the stock than bullish. Six analysts have a buy rating on Campari, and 16 analysts have hold or sell ratings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The average 12-month target price for the company by those 22 analysts is 5.79 euros, 3.75 percent lower than yesterday’s closing price in Milan.

“The company has made many deals in the past decade, with the portfolio now increasingly complex and containing too many brands that don’t have strong growth profiles,” said Samar Chand, an analyst at Barclays in London in a telephone interview. He downgraded the stock to an ‘Underweight’ in November “Apart from Wild Turkey, nothing else has sustainable traction.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Kambiz Foroohar in New York at kforoohar@bloomberg.net; Zohair Siraj in New York at zsiraj1@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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