The Beston Wine Industry Trust has boosted its substantial vineyard Holdings, with a $A7.9m acquisition in the Riverland of South Australia. It is also planning to spend a further $A7.57m for two other vineyards.

The Trust is part of the Adelaide-based Challenger Beston, the former Beston Pacific Group. Beston Pacific was acquired last December by Challenger International, the publicly listed investment bank and diversified financial group belonging to the business empire of Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer.

Today's purchase, of 172.8 hectares of established vineyards at Waikerie will be leased backed to the sellers, consistent with Beston's practice, for 10 years.

Beston is understood to now have about $A50m of the $A75m in investments it is targeting. It has previously bought from, and leased back vineyards to, Brian McGuigan Wines and Grant Burge Wines.

It collectively has property in the Riverland and Barossa and Eden Valleys in South Australia, as well as in the Hunter Valley and Cowra in New South Wales.

Managing director, Chris Atkins, said today that purchases of a $A5.8m vineyard at Gundagai, in southern New South Wales, and a $A1.87m vineyard at Langhorne Creek, 80km south east of Adelaide, were currently being finalised.

The Trust was publicly listed 12 months ago after a $A12m float. Today's acquisition was funded by equity raised in April and May 2000 together with debt from the National Australia Bank Limited.

Chris Snow