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Casella set to buy Peter Lehmann Wines

Published:  13 November, 2014

Two major players of the Australian wine world are to come together as Casella Family Brands, owners of Yellow Tail, plans to buy Peter Lehmann Wines.

Two major players of the Australian wine world are to come together as Casella Family Brands, owners of Yellow Tail, plans to buy Peter Lehmann Wines.

CasellaYellow Tail looks to buy Peter Lehmann WinesCasella Family Brands has offered an estimated AU$57 million for the Barossa company, which shareholders are minded to accept.

Casella is proposing AU$1.50 per share, making the deal worth an estimated AU$57 million. Majority shareholder The Hess Group, along with 10% shareholder Margaret Lehmann, intend to accept the offer.

Casella says the move will allow it to build a portfolio of premium wines that "highlight the enormous diversity of the Barossa and its sub-regions". The Swiss-based Hess Group is planning to give more focus to its Californian brands.

Peter Lehmann Wines chairman Christoph Ehrbar said: "The board has evaluated the proposal by Casella Family Brands to acquire Peter Lehmann Wines and is confident that John Casella and his team will be fine custodians of Peter Lehmann's legacy. Casella Family Brands is an Australian family owned wine success story with the vision and expertise to continue the development of this important South Australian wine business."

CFB managing director John Casella said: "The proposed acquisition of Peter Lehmann Wines by Casella Family Brands plays an integral part in building a family of quality brands across a range of price segments. With our strong global footprint we are excited by the prospects and opportunities ahead for the business."

Hess became the majority owner in 2003, paying AU$149 million at the time. "The sale of Peter Lehmann is a positive development for everyone involved," said Timothy Persson, managing director of Hess Family Wine Estates. "Casella's investment in PLW will further unlock the winery's full potential. At the same time, it allows Hess Family Wine Estates to realise its strategic objective of focusing resources on growing its key brands in the company's leading markets."

Margaret Lehmann said John Casella, as a grower and winemaker, "shares the values that led to the creation of the company". She added: "I believe Peter Lehmann Wines will continue to flourish because the patient capital of private ownership is better suited to the cyclical nature of the wine industry."

David Gleave, managing director of Liberty Wines, the UK distributor of Peter Lehmann Wines since September, told "it is business as usual". "We look forward to working with Peter Lehmann under their new ownership. We've only just started with Peter Lehmann less than two months ago, and have had some early success selling their premium Barossa wines. Our focus is on building on this early success in the premium channels in which we operate." 

The sale comes after a difficult period for the Lehmann family - in June former managing director Doug Lehmann, 62, died after a heart attack. His death came just a year after his father Peter, the company founder, died of kidney disease aged 82.