US private equity firm buys Australia’s biggest wine producer

Accolade Wines, the fifth-largest wine company by volume, has been sold to a US investment firm for US$770 million.

Sydney (AFP) – US-based investor the Carlyle Group has bought Australia’s biggest wine producer Accolade Wines for Aus$1 billion (US$770 million) as it seeks out growth opportunities in the Asian region, the firm said Thursday.

Accolade Wines, the world’s fifth-largest wine company by volume, was sold to the Carlyle Group by Australia’s CHAMP Private Equity, which owns 80 percent of the firm, and US alcohol distributor Constellation Brands.

“This is a company with great brands and strong market positions, with multiple growth opportunities, particularly in Asian markets,” Carlyle said in a statement. 

“We look forward to supporting Accolade Wines with Carlyle’s global resources, and investing in the business and working with staff, suppliers and customers to drive growth.”

CHAMP created Accolade Wines after buying Constellation Wines’ Australian and European units in 2011 for Aus$290 million, and built up the company.

Accolade Wines exports to more than 140 countries, and while it is headquartered in Australia, the business derives more than two-thirds of its earnings offshore.

The firm also exports more than Aus$350 million of wine annually from Australia.

Carlyle is expected to continue Accolade’s push into the Asian market, particularly China, The Australian Financial Review reported Thursday.

Based in Washington DC, the Carlyle Group is one of the world’s largest investment management groups, with US$178 billion in assets.