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Villa Maria Estate set to be sold to Indevin

New Zealand’s Villa Maria Estate is set to be sold to Indevin, the country’s largest contract winemaker, after its parent company went into receivership earlier this year.

Calibre Partners, the receivers of FFWL, which is owned by Villa Maria founder Sir George Fistonich and his wife Karen, said a conditional agreement had been reached with Marlborough-based Indevin to acquire 100% of the shares of Villa Maria Estate Ltd.

Villa Maria was founded by Sir George in 1961 and is the UK & Ireland’s leading New Zealand wine brand, selling a total of 2.5m cases of wine around the world in its last financial year.

FFWL, its holding company, went into receivership in May this year with creditors including the banks ANZ and Rabobank.

On completion, the sale will include wineries in Marlborough, Hawke’s Bay and Auckland, vineyards, supplier agreements and the brands Villa Maria, Esk Valley, Vidal and Leftfield.

Villa Maria has 300 permanent employees and processes 30,000 tonnes of grapes through its wineries each year.

Privately owned Indevin makes wines for wineries and retailers all over the world, has three wineries and controls supply from more than 3,000 hectares of vineyards in Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

‘Our business model is all about producing quality wines, creating authentic brands while retaining and building value for New Zealand wine in international markets,’ said Greg Tomlinson, chairman of Indevin.

‘Adding Villa Maria to our portfolio fits within our long-term growth strategy and will complement our existing business.’

Villa Maria chairman Malcolm McDougall said it was ‘reassuring’ that the business was being sold to a New Zealand company. ‘There is genuine compatibility between the businesses,’ he added.

‘Indevin is a successful operator. It brings a strong supply chain and has established key export markets with contracted long-term partnerships. Meanwhile, Villa Maria brings a legacy and strong brands that command a premium. Together, that’s a powerful combination.’

Receiver Brendan Gibson said the sale was set to be finalised on 31 August, with the additional sale of 34ha of light industrial land surrounding Villa Maria’s Auckland winery to Goodman Property Trust likely to complete later in the year.

‘We see this as a good outcome that provides certainty for the business, staff, customers, suppliers and the communities in which Villa Maria operates,’ he added.

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