Seagram

Last updated
Seagram Company Ltd.
Seagram's
Industry Beverages
FateBroken-up into Pernod Ricard and Diageo, entertainment assets sold to Vivendi, food and beverage assets sold to The Coca-Cola Company
Predecessor MCA Inc.
Successor Vivendi
Pernod Ricard
Diageo
Universal Studios
Universal Music Group
The Coca-Cola Company
NBCUniversal
Comcast
Founded1857;162 years ago (1857)
Defunct2000;19 years ago (2000)
Headquarters,
Number of locations
Burlington
Oakville
Oshawa
Brampton
Saskatoon
Edmonton
Burnaby
Waterloo
Key people
Joseph E. Seagram
Bronfman family
Products Alcoholic beverages, Ginger ale, Tonic water, Club soda
Subsidiaries PolyGram
Universal Studios
Spencer Gifts
Websitearchived [1]

Seagram Company Ltd. (formerly traded as Seagram's) was a Canadian multinational conglomerate formerly headquartered in Montreal, Quebec. Originally a distiller of Canadian whisky based in Waterloo, Ontario, it was once (in the 1990s) the largest owner of alcoholic beverage lines in the world.

A trade name, trading name, or business name is a pseudonym frequently used by companies to operate under a name different from their registered, legal name. The term for this type of alternative name is a "fictitious" business name. Registering the fictitious name with the relevant government body is often required.

Conglomerate (company) two or more corporations that fall under one corporate group

A conglomerate is the combination of two or more corporations operating in entirely different industries under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company. Conglomerates are often large and multinational.

Montreal City in Quebec, Canada

Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

Contents

Toward the end of its independent existence, it also controlled various entertainment and other business ventures, with its purchase of MCA Inc., whose assets included Universal Studios and its theme parks, financed through the sale of Seagram's 25% holding of chemical company DuPont, a position it acquired in 1981. Following this, the company imploded, with its beverage assets wholesaled off to various industry titans, notably The Coca-Cola Company, Diageo, and Pernod Ricard. Universal's television holdings were sold off to media entrepreneur Barry Diller, and the balance of the Universal entertainment empire and what was Seagram was sold to French conglomerate Vivendi in 2000.

MCA Inc. was an American media company founded in 1924. Originally involved only in the music business, the company next became a major force in the film industry, and later expanded into television production. MCA published music, booked acts, ran a record company, represented film, television, and radio stars, and eventually produced and sold television programs to the three major television networks, but had an especially good relationship with NBC.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, commonly referred to as DuPont, is an American conglomerate that was founded in July 1802 in Wilmington, Delaware, as a gunpowder mill by French-American chemist and industrialist Éleuthère Irénée du Pont.

The Coca-Cola Company American multinational beverage corporation

The Coca-Cola Company is an American corporation, and manufacturer, retailer, and marketer of nonalcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. The company is best known for its flagship product Coca-Cola, invented in 1886 by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton in Atlanta, Georgia. The Coca-Cola formula and brand were fully bought with US$2,300 in 1889 by Asa Griggs Candler, who incorporated The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta in 1892.

Seagram's House, the former Seagram's headquarters in Montreal, was donated to McGill University by Vivendi Universal in 2002, then renamed Martlet House. [2] The Seagram Building, once the company's American headquarters in New York City, was commissioned by Phyllis Lambert, daughter of Seagram CEO Samuel Bronfman, and designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with Philip Johnson. Regarded as one of the most notable examples of the functionalist aesthetic and a prominent instance of corporate modern architecture, it set the trend for the city's skyline for decades to follow, and has been featured in several Hollywood films. On completion, the innovative and luxuriously appointed 38-story tower's construction costs made it the world's most expensive skyscraper. [3] The Bronfman family sold the Seagram building to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association for $70.5 million in 1979. [4]

McGill University English-language university in Montreal, Quebec

McGill University is a public research university in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was established in 1821 by royal charter, granted by King George IV. The university bears the name of James McGill, a Montreal merchant originally from Scotland whose bequest in 1813 formed the university's precursor, McGill College.

Martlet House former HQ for Seagram, now part of McGill University in Montreal

Martlet House is a Scottish baronial style building at 1430 Peel Street in Downtown Montreal, Quebec. The building was completed in 1928 by architect David Jerome Spence, with additions in 1931, 1947 and 1955.

Seagram Building skyscraper in New York City

The Seagram Building is a skyscraper, located at 375 Park Avenue, between 52nd Street and 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The integral plaza, building, stone faced lobby and distinctive glass and bronze exterior were designed by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Philip Johnson designed the interior of The Four Seasons and Brasserie restaurants. Kahn & Jacobs were associate architects. Severud Associates were the structural engineering consultants. The Seagram building was completed in 1958.

History

In 1857, a distillery was founded in Waterloo, Ontario Canada. Joseph E. Seagram became a partner in 1869 and sole owner in 1883, and the company became known as Joseph E. Seagram & Sons. Many decades later, in 1924, Samuel Bronfman and his brothers founded Distillers Corporation Limited, in Montreal, which enjoyed substantial growth in the 1920s, in part due to Prohibition in the United States. (The Distillers Corporation Limited name was derived from a United Kingdom company called Distillers Company Limited, which controlled the leading brands of whisky in the UK, and which was doing business with the Bronfmans.)

Distillation method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatility of components in a boiling liquid mixture

Distillation is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation. Distillation may result in essentially complete separation, or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture. In either case, the process exploits differences in the volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial chemistry, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.

Waterloo, Ontario City in Ontario, Canada

Waterloo is a city in Ontario, Canada. It is the smallest of three cities in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, and is adjacent to the city of Kitchener.

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

In 1923, the Bronfmans purchased the Greenbrier Distillery in the United States, dismantled it, shipped it to Canada, and reassembled it in LaSalle, Quebec. [5] The Bronfmans shipped liquor from Canada to the French-controlled overseas collectivity Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the then-Dominion of Newfoundland, which was then shipped by bootleggers to Rum rows in New York, New Jersey and other states. [6] [7]

Nelson's Green Brier Distillery is a producer of Tennessee whiskey and other spirits that launched in 2011 and began operating a distillery in 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. The company is named after a pre-Prohibition historical distillery that operated under the ownership of businessman Charles Nelson and later his widow in Greenbrier, Robertson County, Tennessee, from 1870 to 1909.

LaSalle, Quebec Borough of Montreal in Quebec, Canada

LaSalle is a borough of the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prior to 2002, it was a separate municipality. It was founded in 1912 as a town. LaSalle is located in the south-west portion of the Island of Montreal, located along the Saint Lawrence river.

The French overseas collectivities, like the French regions, are first-order administrative divisions of France, but have a semi-autonomous status. The COMs include some former French overseas colonies and other French overseas entities with a particular status, all of which became COMs by constitutional reform on 28 March 2003. The COMs should not be confused with the overseas regions and overseas departments, which have the same status as Mainland France but are just located outside Europe. As integral parts of France, overseas collectivities are represented in the National Assembly, Senate and Economic and Social Council. Only one COM, Saint Martin, is part of the European Union and can vote to elect members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The Pacific COMs use the CFP franc, a currency pegged to the euro, whereas the Atlantic COMs use the euro directly. As of 31 March 2011, there were five COMs:

In 1928, a few years after the death of Joseph E. Seagram (1919), the Distillers Corporation acquired Joseph E. Seagram & Sons from heir and President Edward F. Seagram; the merged company retained the Seagram name. The company was well prepared for the end of Prohibition in 1933 with an ample stock of aged whiskeys ready to sell to the newly opened American market, and it prospered accordingly.

Edward Frowde Seagram was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and politician in Ontario, Canada. He served as mayor of Waterloo from 1906 to 1907.

Although he was never convicted of criminal activity, Samuel Bronfman's dealings with bootleggers during the Prohibition-era in the United States have been researched by various historians and are documented in various peer-vetted chronicles. [8] [9]

In the 1930s, when Seagram set up business in the United States, it paid a fine of $1.5 million to the US government to settle delinquent excise taxes on liquor illegally exported to the US during Prohibition. The US government had originally asked for $60 million. [10]

Original Seagram Distillery buildings in Waterloo, now converted to residential condominiums Seagram Distillery Buildings.JPG
Original Seagram Distillery buildings in Waterloo, now converted to residential condominiums

After the death of Samuel Bronfman in 1971, Edgar M. Bronfman was named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until June 1994 when his son, Edgar Bronfman Jr., was appointed CEO. [11]

From the 1950s, most of the family holdings of Distillers-Seagram was held through holding company Cemp Investments, which was owned by the four children of Samuel Bronfman. The three most popular Seagram distilled products in the 1960s through 1990s were Seven Crown, VO, and Crown Royal.

In 1981, cash-rich and wanting to diversify, the U.S.-based subsidiary Seagram Company Ltd. engineered a takeover of Conoco Inc., a major American oil and gas producing company. Although Seagram acquired a 32.2% stake in Conoco, DuPont was brought in as a white knight by the oil company and entered the bidding war. In the end, Seagram lost out in the Conoco bidding war, though in exchange for its stake in Conoco it became a 24.3% owner of DuPont. By 1995, Seagram was DuPont's largest single shareholder with four seats on its board.

In 1986, the company started a memorable TV commercial campaign advertising its Golden wine cooler products. With rising star Bruce Willis as pitchman, Seagram rose from fifth place among distillers to first in just two years. [12]

Truck advertising the Seagram's Escapes brand of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages Seagram's Escapes Mickey Beverage Bodies.jpg
Truck advertising the Seagram's Escapes brand of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages

In 1987, Seagram engineered a $1.2 billion takeover of French cognac maker Martell & Cie.

In 1995, Edgar Bronfman Jr. was eager to get into the film and electronic media business. On April 6, 1995, after being approached by Bronfman, DuPont announced a deal whereby the company would buy back its shares from the Seagram company for $9 billion. Seagram was heavily criticized by the investment community—the 24.3% stake in DuPont accounted for 70% of Seagram's earnings. Standard & Poor's took the unusual step of stating that the sale of the DuPont interest could result in a downgrade of Seagram's more than $4.2 billion of long-term debt. Bronfman used the proceeds of the sale to acquire a controlling interest in MCA, whose assets included Universal Pictures and its theme parks. Later, Seagram purchased PolyGram and Deutsche Grammophon.

In 2000, Edgar Bronfman Jr. sold controlling interest in Seagram's entertainment division to Vivendi, and the beverage division to Pernod Ricard and Diageo. By the time Vivendi began auctioning off Seagram's beverages business, the once-renowned operation consisted of around 250 drink brands and brand extensions in addition to its original high-profile brand names.

In 2002, The Coca-Cola Company acquired the line of Seagram's mixers (ginger ale, tonic water, club soda and seltzer water) from Pernod Ricard and Diageo, as well as signing a long-term agreement to use the Seagram name from Pernod Ricard. [13]

On April 19, 2006, Pernod Ricard announced that they would be closing the former Seagram distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. However, the distillery was instead sold in 2007 to CL Financial, a holding company based in Trinidad and Tobago which then collapsed and required government intervention. They operated the distillery as Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana. In December 2011, the distillery was purchased by MGP Ingredients, headquartered in Atchison, Kansas. [14] It is now known as MGP of Indiana, and continues to be the source of the components of Seagram's Seven Crown, now owned by Diageo.

In a 2013 interview with The Globe and Mail , Charles Bronfman (uncle of Bronfman Jr.) stated that the decisions leading to the demise of Seagram was "a disaster, it is a disaster, it will be a disaster...It was a family tragedy.” [15]

In 1997, the Seagram Museum, formerly the original Seagram distillery in Waterloo, Ontario, was forced to close due to lack of funds. The building is now the home of the Centre for International Governance Innovation as well as Shopify. The two original barrel houses are now the Seagram Lofts condominiums. There were almost 5 acres (2.0 ha) of open land, upon which the Balsillie School of International Affairs was subsequently built; construction began in 2009, and was completed in 2010. [16] [17]

See also

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Blenders Pride

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Imperial Blue (whisky)

Imperial Blue, abbreviated to IB and also known as Seagram's Imperial Blue, is a brand of Indian whisky, owned by Pernod Ricard, and launched in 1997. It is a blend of Indian grain spirits with imported Scotch malts. It is commonly available in 750ml, 375ml and 180ml bottles, and also available in 90ml bottles.

Cemp Investments Ltd. was the primary holding company and investment vehicle for the four children of Samuel Bronfman: Charles Bronfman, Edgar Bronfman, Aileen "Minda" Bronfman de Gunzburg, and Phyllis Lambert, also known as the Montreal branch of the Bronfman family. During its five decade existence, Cemp became one of the largest privately owned companies in Canada. At its peak it controlled assets worth tens of billions in dollars of assets in major distilling, commercial real estate development, oil and gas, and entertainment companies across North America.

References

  1. archive.org
  2. Desjardins, Sylvain-Jacques (2004-04-25). "Seagram Building reborn as Martlet House". McGill Reporter. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/12/nyregion/on-park-avenue-another-trophy-changes-hands.html
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/1988/04/21/nyregion/seagram-landmark-move-is-backed.html
  5. Canadian Whiskey: The Portable Expert by Davin de Kergommeaux ISBN   9780771027451
  6. Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010; Simon & Schuster) ISBN   978-0-7432-7702-0
  7. “From Shirtsleeves to Shirtless”: The Bronfman Dynasty and the Seagram Empire by Graham D. Taylor; Business History Conference, 2006
  8. Peter C. Newman, Bronfman Dynasty: The Rothschilds of the New World (1978; U.S. title: King of the Castle: The Making of a Dynasty) ISBN   0-7710-6758-5
  9. Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition pp.146-158 (2010; Simon & Schuster) ISBN   978-0-7432-7702-0
  10. Bronfman fortune based on ... well ... bootlegging Ottawa Citizen August 19, 1975
  11. Edgar M. Bronfman, "Good Spirits: The Making of a Businessman" (1998) ISBN   0399143742
  12. Interview with Bruce Willis, page 65, Playboy Magazine, November 1988
  13. "Pernod Ricard and Diageo Sell Seagram's Mixers to The Coca-Cola Company. Business Wire May 7, 2002" . Retrieved 2010-12-29.
  14. MGP Ingredients Inc. to Purchase Lawrenceburg, Indiana Distillery Assets, company press release, Oct. 21, 2011.
  15. Slater, Joanna (5 April 2013). "Charles Bronfman opens up about Seagram's demise: 'It is a disaster'". The Globe and Mail . Retrieved 2013-04-08.
  16. "Construction continues on the Balsillie Campus" July 2, 2010 http://cigicampus.cigionline.org/tag/bsia/
  17. Mercer, Greg (January 8, 2009). "New Balsillie School will be 'functional, not fancy', The Record, January 8, 2009". Kitchener Record . Retrieved 2009-08-10.