CHAMP Private Equity has sold Accolade Wines – which includes some of Australia’s most celebrated wine brands such as Hardys, Stonier, St Hallett, Grant Burge, Goundrey, Houghton, Petaluma and Croser – to American company The Carlyle Group for $1 billion.
The deal ends years of speculation about the future of Accolade Wines.
An agreement has been entered into between 80 percent shareholder, the CHAMP III Funds (CHAMP) and 20 percent shareholder Constellation Brands Inc. to sell 100 percent of their shareholdings in Accolade Wines to The Carlyle Group.
The Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager with $195 billion of assets under management across 317 investment vehicles, according to its website.
In early 2011 CHAMP acquired two separate divisions from Constellation for A$290 million and began the process of creating Accolade Wines. CHAMP Private Equity CEO John Haddock said, “We saw an opportunity, but the wine industry has long cycles so we knew we had to commit to a longer hold in order to realise that opportunity.
“The two divisions CHAMP acquired had separate strategies, separate management, operated out of Australia and the UK and were even on separate IT systems. Firstly, we had to bring the two divisions together to create one business.”
More than seven years later under CHAMP’s stewardship Accolade is the largest producer of Australian wine, exporting to more than 140 countries, and one of the world’s leading wine companies.
“Accolade is a proud Australian success story deriving more than two-thirds of its earnings offshore and with more than A$350 million in annual exports of Australian wine,” Mr Haddock said.
“We followed a deliberate strategy of creating a New World wine platform so that we now have winemaking operations in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States and Chile, while also premiumising our local offering through the acquisitions of Grant Burge Wines and the Fine Wine Partners portfolio, which included brands such as St. Hallett, Petaluma and Croser.”
CHAMP has also made significant investment in Accolade’s production facilities and following the completion next year of the new bottling and warehousing facility at Berri, the company will have the largest bottling, packaging and distribution centres in both Europe (Accolade Park in the UK) and in the Southern Hemisphere to service all of its key markets.
“CHAMP is proud of the work undertaken to both rejuvenate core brands like Hardys, which has been making wine for more than 160 years, and growing the brands that have been added to the portfolio,” Mr Haddock said.
“I know Sir James and Bill Hardy are very pleased with the renewed trajectory that their family’s heritage brand is taking and since Accolade’s acquisition of Grant Burge, sales have increased by more than 80 percent.”
“Accolade is now a leading Australian based consumer goods company of a size and scale which puts it in the top five of its sector globally, with established assets, brands of special heritage and an export driven platform pointing towards Asia.
“Accolade represents the best of private equity ownership: taking the time to develop a business, investing in multiple areas of the business and orientating the company towards a growth opportunity that has many years ahead of it.
“CHAMP is proud to have been the custodian of so many widely respected brands, to have contributed to the great Australian wine industry and to have added export value to Australia. We are very pleased that a global firm of such experience and capability as The Carlyle Group will now take Accolade forward.”
The CHAMP Group is one of Australia’s most experienced private equity managers having first raised institutional capital more than 30 years ago. Since that time CHAMP has made more than 90 investments and deployed more than $3.5 billion in equity capital. CHAMP has one of the largest dedicated investment teams in the region and is currently investing the CHAMP IV Funds. Current CHAMP portfolio companies include Pepperstone, Containerchain, Strait NZ, Dutton Garage, Jaybro, Axieo and Shelf Drilling.
• Photo from Hardys Facebook page.