Wine giant Villa Maria’s owner owes $212m to bankers – report

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The company that owns the wine giant Villa Maria owes its bankers $212 million, a first receivers report says.

File photo.
Photo: (Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash)

Rabobank and ANZ appointed Calibre Partners as receivers of the holding company, FFWL, in May.

At the time, one of the receivers, Brendon Gibson stressed that Villa Maria’s domestic and international business, which had been operating for 60 years, remained in good health.

The wine company had been going through a well-publicised process to find a new investor and placing the FFWL into receivership was a necessary step to speed up that process, Gibson told RNZ in May.

The first receivers report, released earlier today, said the company owed its bankers $211.9m.

Money owed to the tax department was not yet known, and the report did not disclose the value of its assets because of commercial sensitivity.

“In the lead up to our appointment the [FFWL] and [Villa Maria] came under pressure due to issues with the Group’s capital structure,” the report said.

“[FFWL] had been running processes to raise equity and sell some land in Māngere, Auckland that is surplus to its core operating requirements.”

Since our appointment we have continued with the existing sales process for Villa Maria, the report said.

The apple exportee Scales Corporation was initially among the interested parties vying to buy the company but had since ruled itself out of the bidding war.

Among the other suitors rumoured to be in the running to take a stake in Villa Maria was the French beverage giant Pernod Ricard, Australian wine company Accolade Wines, and US beverage company Constellation Brands.

A valuation of about $200m had been placed on the company, which is controlled by industry veterans, the Fistonich family.

The company’s brands include Villa Maria, Vidal, and Esk Valley.

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