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Villa Maria finds buyer following mounting debts

Published:  02 August, 2021

Leading New Zealand winery Villa Maria has signed a conditional agreement for the sale of its estate, three months after it officially went into receivership when it was revealed that it owed bankers NZD $212 million.

The business has been purchased by Indevin, a Marlborough-based New Zealand owned wine company, which is a large player in the country’s wine industry.

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

“Adding Villa Maria to our portfolio fits within our long term growth strategy and will complement our existing business.”

If the sale is finalised, Indevin will own the company’s Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Auckland wineries, vineyards, supplier agreements, the flagship brand Villa Maria as well as Esk Valley, Vidal and Leftfield.

“Our whole business is built around holding and building value for New Zealand vineyards and growers. If the conditions of the sale are satisfied, we plan to drive focus and increased investment behind Villa Maria to further enhance its reputation for quality and protect its brand value. This will be an important next step in the story of the brand,” Tomlinson added.

A receivership is a court-appointed tool that can assist creditors to recover funds in default and can help troubled companies to avoid bankruptcy.

Villa Maria was first placed into receivership back in May, when one of the receivers, Brendon Gibson, stressed that Villa Maria’s domestic and international business was in good health.

“This action does not affect Villa Maria, which is trading profitably and continues to trade as normal,” he said.

Mounting debts however have prompted an intensive nine-month sale process to find new buyers.

“It’s reassuring that Villa Maria’s new owner will be another Kiwi company,” chairman of the Villa Maria board, Malcolm McDougall, said.

“There is genuine compatibility between the businesses. 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.”

Villa Maria is a major proponent of New Zealand’s wine industry, with strong domestic and export sales accrued over 60 years.

It is currently New Zealand’s top wine brand in UK and Ireland by value, with 2.5 million 9-litre cases of branded wine sold globally in the last financial year.

A final settlement date for the sale of the company is currently set for 31 August 2021.