US magnate saves New Zealand Wine

A merger between Marlborough’s struggling New Zealand Wine Company and American-owned Foley Family Wines would put American billionaire Bill Foley more than halfway toward his goal of a million-case Kiwi wine business, his chief executive says.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval and Overseas Investment Office approval.

NZ Wine signed its agreement in the nick of time; it had until Saturday to bring in new capital to reduce its bank debts.

In a statement to the NZAX, (NZX alternative market) the Marlborough winemaker said Foley Family Wines would take 80 per cent of the company to satisfy NZ Wine’s banker by cutting at least $5 million of debt.

NZ Wine chairman Alton Jamieson said Foley Family Wines NZ would be issued 34.7 million new shares in return for all its New Zealand assets and a cash component of about $5m.

Foley Family Wines owns several Marlborough wine labels, Wairarapa luxury lodge Wharekauhau and Martinborough’s Te Kairanga Wines, which Mr Foley has made his New Zealand base.