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Foley adds Te Kairanga winery to NZ portfolio

Thursday 5th May 2011

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American businessman Bill Foley says he is buying adding a noted winery at Martinborough, in addition to the South Island wineries he already owns.

Foley, a big player in California's Napa Valley, is buying the 70,000-case Te Kairanga Wines Ltd, he said in a statement. The deal is subject to shareholder and Overseas Investment Office approval.

The price was not disclosed, but the winery was established more than 20 years ago and owns or leases about 100 hectares of premium vineyards, making it the largest vineyard operator in Martinborough.

A 34% stake in Te Kairanga was owned by Rangatira Ltd, a Wellington-based investment company. Te Kairanga's shares trade on the Unlisted exchange, and last changed hands there at 50c each on December 17, valuing the company at $4.3 million.

Foley Family Wines NZ, headed by Bruce Clugston, will take over the running of Te Kairanga, the company said in a statement. The company already owns Vavasour in Marlborough and Clifford Bay winery in the Awatere Valley.

Foley also owns a luxury lodge near Te Kairanga, Wharekauhau, which charges $1525 for a single night's accommodation, or $5775 a night for a three-bedroom house on the 2200 hectare farm above Palliser Bay.

His California-based Foley Family Wines portfolio now has production equivalent to nearly a million cases of wine annually, including about 33,000 cases from his partial acquisition last month of a 100,000-case wine company in Australia, Wineinc.

Wineinc was co-founded in 2004 by Clugston, who said it would be complementary to Foley's New Zealand brands which produced "cool climate" red and white wines under brands, including Clifford Bay, Vavasour, Goldwater and Dashwood. Te Kairanga has won international recognition of its pinot noir wines from a cool, windy climate and well-draining soils.

"Te Kairanga's extraordinary pinot noirs will be a great addition to our New Zealand portfolio," Clugston said.

Foley paid an estimated US$70 million last year for Chalk Hill Winery in California, bought Sebastiani Winery in 2008 and bid unsuccessfully this year for Fetzer Vineyards in Mendocino County, which sold to a Chilean producer for US$238 million.

Foley, who chairs two US Fortune 500 companies, started his wine business in 1996 with the acquisition of Lincourt Vineyards in California's Santa Ynez Valley. He is still looking to acquire a flagship winery in Napa County, he said recently.



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