Palandri sets May float date

MARGARET River-based winemaker Palandri has confirmed a May 13 listing on London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market, which will result in new investors taking up to 30 per cent of the company.

Palandri executive chairman Darrel Jarvis, who will become chief executive in a forthcoming board reshuffle, said the company was aiming for $10 million in new offshore equity, which would make it debt-free.

The move would value the company at about $35 million and provide a market for several thousand Palandri investors to trade their shares.

Mr Jarvis said four new UK board members would come on deck, leaving him, recent arrival Chris Brown and newcomer Robin Day, a former winemaker from Orlando Wyndham, as the Australian directors of the parent company.

He said the new UK directors were independent of the new investment in the company, including Phillip Wetz, a retired executive from liquor distribution group Unwins.

Mr Jarvis said reports that Unwins had taken a stake in Palandri were wrong, though negotiations were being held with a Norwegian-based distributor regarding an arrangement that may include equity.

He said other new directors were Grant Thornton International chairman Brian Moritz, agribusiness investor Coach House chairman Michael Cunningham and RHM Foods chief operating officer Tim Kelly.

Mr Moritz, who represents Palandri’s nominated adviser for the AIM listing, will become non-executive chairman.

Mr Jarvis said the AIM listing would end a tough 18-month period for the company as it emerged from start-up phase.

Six months ago Palandri made a $6.5 million call on investors in its wine projects to shore up funding shortfalls and announced plans for a $7.5 million convertible note issue to precede a float on the Australian Stock Exchange.

But in February it dropped the Australian float plans in favour of the AIM listing as details of a moratorium on a $9.2 million debt with National Australia Bank became public.

NAB demanded $3 million be paid before March 31 and wanted the whole debt cleared by June 30.

A further call of $4.2 million has been made on the Margaret River Wine Business Project 2 members for a shortfall.

But Mr Jarvis was bullish about the company and said his confidence was high.

He said the recent issues were not as tough to deal with as the start of 2003 when he did have some doubts about the company’s strategy.

Dealings with the bank had now been “normalised”, a process he described as a realignment which had been part of his career since the days when he ran the Holmes a Court’s private company Heytesbury Holdings.

“I have earned my keep with banks,” he said.

“We have been going through a realignment, that is what I did at Heytesbury for a living.”





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