Carlyle acquires Accolade Wines for A$1bn

Accolade WinesGlobal private equity firm The Carlyle Group has agreed to purchase Accolade Wines for A$1 billion.

Accolade’s majority owner CHAMP Private Equity last night agreed to the sale after five weeks of negotiations.

“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,” CHAMP chief executive John Haddock said in a statement.

CHAMP originally acquired the business from alcohol giant Constellation in early 2011 for $290 million, which led to the creation of Accolade Wines.

CHAMP said in a statement an agreement has been entered into between 80 per cent shareholder, the CHAMP III Funds (CHAMP) and 20% shareholder, Constellation Brands to sell 100% of their shareholdings in Accolade Wines to The Carlyle Group. The total consideration for the purchase is A$1 billion.

“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,” Haddock said.

“We followed a deliberate strategy of creating a New World wine platform so that we now have wine making 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 said it also made significant investment in Accolade’s production facilities and following the completion next year of the new bottling and warehousing facility at Berri in South Australia, 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.

The company said it 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.

“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 per cent,” Haddock said.

“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.”

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