By Andy Young
As two Chinese companies emerge as possible suitors for Accolade Wines, speculation is mounting that Champ Private Equity could sell the company through a trade sale rather than an IPO.
China Resources, the company which owns the world’s biggest selling beer, Snow, and Kweichow Moutai Company, which produces Moutai, are circling Accolade, which is priced at over $1bn. Both Chinese companies are state-owned and leaders in China are keen on Australian businesses to help secure quality imports.
Champ currently owns 80 per cent of Accolade and has brought in advisers to help with a potential initial public offering, but is still open to a private sale. The other 20 per cent of Accolade is owned by US alcohol beverages company Constellation Brands, which is preparing to sell its Canadian wine business, raising speculation about plans to sell its share in Accolade.
Reunion Capital Partners, Morgan Stanley and Citi have all been brought in to advise Champ and Accolade on the potential IPO, and if that went ahead it is likely Champ would retain a share in the business.
The UK media is also reporting that a number of European businesses are showing an interest in Accolade, adding to the speculation that the IPO may not now happen.
Champ acquired its holding in Accolade from Constellation in 2011 for $300m, after Constellation had paid $1.9bn for the business in 2003. The Accolade portfolio includes Hardy’s Grant Burge Wines, Mud House and Banrock Station.
Last month TheShout reported that Weilong Grape Wine Company, one of China’s largest winemakers, had bought a number of Australia vineyards and is planning further investment in Australian wine.