India’s Champagne Indage to buy Australian winery for over $54 mn

March 20th, 2008 - 12:08 pm ICT by admin  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, March 20 (IANS) India’s leading winemaker Champagne Indage is set to buy Australian Vintage’s Loxton winery for 60 million Australian dollars ($54.6 million). Australian Vintage Ltd. (AVL) has signed a deal to sell its second-largest winery to Indage within six months, subject to Indage satisfying due diligence requirements. The 90,000-litre facility in the state of south Australia’s Riverland is the country’s fifth-largest winery.

“We’re pleased we’re able to find a buyer and sell at a price we’re comfortable with,” AVL’s chief executive Dane Hudson told the Sydney Morning Herald.

For Indage, which is easily the biggest wine grower in India with about 75 percent market share, the purchase of Loxton is part of a larger strategy of “going global”.

Last July the company, aiming to get four percent of the global wine market by 2010, bought a listed Australian winery, Tandou Wines (renamed Thachi Wines), in the Riverland district of south Australia.

Indage’s Managing Director R.S. Chougule said in the company’s annual report that the Thachi purchase was the “first small step towards a giant stride ahead” in a five-year plan to have production facilities in 10 countries including Australia, Argentina, France, Italy and South Africa.

Indage has 2,630 hectares of vineyards in India. The company’s chief financial officer Rajesh Chalke told the newspaper that while the bulk of the wine from the Loxton winery would be sold locally, some would be shipped to India and other countries and bottled there.

The deal comes as the Australian wine industry returns to high spirits with an estimated vintage of between 800,000 and 1.3 million tonnes in 2008.

Penchant for Australian wines among India’s burgeoning middle class and the government’s withdrawal of additional customs duty on imported wines last July have resulted in total Australian wine exports to India growing from 360,400 litres to more than 1.4 million litres in the past 12 months.

Regional Manager for Emerging Markets, Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, Ali Hogarth told IANS: “Over the last 12 months to the end of October 2007, bottled wine exports have increased by more than 50 percent and total wine exports have quadrupled to more than 1.4 million litres.”

While India is still seen as an “embryonic market” for wines, it is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, with annual growth of 60 percent over the past three years.

Of the Australian wines exported to India that have a geographical indication identified on the label, the top five regions are South Eastern Australia encompassing multiple regions across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales followed by Victoria, South Australia, Margaret River and Western Australia wines.

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