By Andy Young

The Yealands Wine Group has sold 80 per cent of its equity to New Zealand electricity network owner and operator Marlborough Lines Limited for $89 million.

Yealands Wine Group founder Peter Yealands will retain his role in the business and keep a 15 per cent share. The remaining five per cent is owned by CEO Jason Judkins, who will also remain in his position.

Yealands welcomed the investment, saying: "I am delighted to keep the company in local hands and to bring a partner into our business that shares our beliefs and growth aspirations.

"In looking for an investor we wanted someone who shared our beliefs and who would help us to continue to build the business, both in expanding our fruit supply and in developing our international marketing programme."

He added: "I, along with management and the wider team remain fully committed to continuing to produce world class wines sustainably. Personally, I am really looking forward to getting out from behind my desk more often so that I can again develop more vineyards to assist the rapid growth of our business, in addition to getting more into market."

Marlborough Lines managing director Ken Forrest said the purchase was good business for the company and welcomed the opportunity to invest locally.

"Opportunities to invest in the electricity industry are limited and this led to us looking to other options," Forrest said.

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to acquire an 80 per cent interest in Yealands.

"We have received independent advice and carried out a comprehensive review of Yealands' business and have been impressed with their achievements, particularly in light of their relatively short existence, and with their ambitious plans for growth.

"We are satisfied that this will be a successful investment which will broaden our asset base for the benefit of the people of Marlborough. We are pleased to be able to demonstrate our confidence in the future of Marlborough's most important industry."

Yealands has over 1100 hectares of planted vineyards and exports more than one million cases of wine each year to over 80 countries. Yealands added that current vintage should help the wine's profile, and demand, both internationally and domestically.

"The current vintage is going to be one of the very best on record and our 2015 wines our finest yet," he said.

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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