Wine sales surface

MARGARET River wine producer Xanadu is poised to bring its $30 million stock market listing forward as the pace of corporate activity in WA’s wine industry accelerates.

Xanadu’s confirmation that it was looking at a March listing on the Australian Stock Exchange came amid a flurry of rumours about sales and mergers within the local sector.

The purchase of Abbey Vale for about $15 million by a Swiss group emerged from a number of poss-ibilities, partly prompted by a number of high level visits from some of Australia’s biggest wine names to the State.

Another transaction that is understood to have gone through is the sale of Caves Road producer Willow Estate in an estimated $4 million purchase by Peter Laurence, who is best known for his connection to Sea World in Queensland.

And the well-known Willespie winery is also on the market, albeit quietly and only to the right buyer.

This news follows the sale of Amberley Estate to Palandri in a deal thought to involve $24 million in cash as well as a significant share component.

Xanadu managing director An-drew Moore said the company was preparing for a compliance listing next month but a final decision had yet to be made.

The company, which has around 800 shareholders, had previously mooted September as a likely listing date but the changing wine landscape had prompted the company to relook at its timetable.

“We basically have the business ready to go,” Mr Moore said.

“Being listed gives you access to opportunities if they are out there.”

Economics professor Jurg Hauser and his wife, Regula, have added Abbey Vale to their property portfolio which includes a Chittering hideaway. They are the second Swiss group to buy into Margaret River, following Fermoy Estate’s sale last year.

Closely tied to the McWilliams group, Abbey Vale will continue to be run by former owner Bill McKay and his son, Kevin.

Willespie owner Marion Squance was unwilling to publicise the fact her family’s winery was on the market. She said she and her husband would only sell to the right people after spending 25 years in the business.

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