Sales to put a dent in debt

THE sale last week by Evans & Tate of its Griffith winery for more than $8 million, and the expected divestment of its Mildura production facility for around $22 million, will go a long way to putting a dent in the Perth company’s net debt. According to the company’s half-year report, its net liabilities at December 31 were more than $48 million. The Griffith winery had taken about a year to sell, though the company said it had been determined to achieve asset value in the sale. The Mildura sale was delayed until the end of the month by the purchaser, Neqtar Ltd. London-based Neqtar said volatility in UK equity markets had forced it to put back its listing on the Alternative Investment Market, causing disruption to the deal, which involves a cash component of $22 million and a 5.9 per cent stake in the British business. Neqtar is closely associated with HwCg, the London wine distribution group that has taken over the UK agency, previously run in-house at Evans & Tate. Once completed, the arrangement will leave Neqtar as the contracted producer of Evans & Tate’s Salisbury and Barra-mundi brands, which HwCg will be selling to UK supermarkets.

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