Greif & Co. did a masterful job negotiating our deal. Thank you for the formidable transaction you put together.

Martin Crowley


Patrón Tequila was co-founded in 1989 by Martin Crowley and John Paul DeJoria, majority shareholder of personal care products company John Paul Mitchell Systems. Mr. Crowley had the inspiration to produce the world’s first ultra-premium sipping tequila and received seed capital from Mr. DeJoria. The company initially sourced its tequila from a family-owned distillery in the Los Altos region of Mexico―Siete Leguas―and entered into an exclusive distribution arrangement with Seagrams. This strategic partnership ultimately met with limited success and Patrón sued Seagrams to break the exclusive agreement. Patrón succeeded in extricating itself from the tieup, but at a considerable cost. Greif & Co. was originally retained by Patrón to arrange financing to fund (i) the court judgment in Seagram’s favor financially, (ii) construction of a new, company-owned distillery and (iii) working capital. Greif & Co. successfully raised $20 million in debt financing from California Bank & Trust which enabled Patrón to accomplish these objectives in 2002. Unfortunately, the following year, Mr. Crowley died of a heart attack, leaving his 50% ownership of Patrón to the Windsong Trust, a charitable foundation to provide for the educational needs of underprivileged children worldwide. Mr. DeJoria attempted to exercise a buy-sell agreement to purchase the Crowley Estate’s interest. The trustees of the estate and the charity once again called on Greif & Co., this time to determine if the offer was fair and, if not, what to do about it.


Greif & Co. determined the offer did not represent fair market value for Mr. Crowley’s 50% equity interest in Patrón. Greif & Co. proposed to generate a competing, truly fair market value offer, despite the fact that the 50% interest was illiquid and did not come with control of Patrón (Mr. DeJoria controlled two of the three seats on the company’s board of directors). As the Crowley Estate was under the gun to determine how to proceed with respect to Mr. DeJoria’s pending offer, within a week Greif & Co. secured a far higher offer from Bacardi Ltd. (the largest privately held spirits company in the world), one that was more than double the offer submitted by Mr. DeJoria. Greif & Co. also worked with the estate’s lawyers to find a legal basis to challenge the enforceability of the buy-sell agreement.


The Crowley Estate accepted the far higher offer from Bacardi in 2004 and sued Mr. DeJoria to invalidate the buy-sell agreement.  The rigorously litigated case was ultimately settled in 2008, with Bacardi becoming a co-owner of Patrón Spirits Co. with Mr. DeJoria, and The Windsong Trust being funded with the extremely substantial proceeds from the sale of Mr. Crowley’s interest.  The valuation received by the charity reflected the increase in valuation of Patrón stemming from the growth of the ascendant brand between 2004 and 2008.  Today, Windsong Trust is one of the largest charities in Southern California.

Related References
  • Greif & Co. did a masterful job negotiating our deal. Thank you for the formidable transaction you put together.

    Martin Crowley

    Founder & CEO

    The Patrón Spirits Company

  • What you did was above and beyond the call of duty. It was outstanding. You are the most relentless, tenacious and effective investment banker selling businesses I know. You don’t suffer fools gladly. You get deals done. I appreciate your professionalism and superior performance on behalf of our client. I recommended you not just because of your considerable capability but also because I trust you to put the client first.

    Louis R. (Skip) Miller


    Miller Barondess LLP

  • The estate did fabulously well.  Greif & Co. delivered an amazing result―beyond amazing. You got them a lot of money. The timing couldn’t have been better and the price was unscathed by the economy.  It was perfect.

    Gregory Rovenger, Esq.

    Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon LLP