Spain's eighth biggest wine company, Cosecheros Abastecedores (CASA), is up for sale.

A majority of its 160 shareholders, representing 53 % of the share capital, have instructed Price Waterhouse Coopers to look for a buyer, although it is still not clear how many of the 160 have agreed to sell.

Industry analysts have commented that some of the shareholders feel that the time is right to cash in their investment, given the strong financial state of the company and the consolidation of the wine industry in Spain.

CASA is the producer of Castillo de Gredos, Don Opas, Señorío de los Llanos and the Pata Negra brands. CASA is a major player in the table wine business but it is also very strong in the Valdepeñas D.O. as well as owning vineyards in the Mentrida and Ribera del Duero areas.

The company had a turnover of €62.8m last year and analysts indicate that it is worth around € 120m.

Family-owned Garcia Carrion would appear to be the favourites to acquire the company, as the portfolio would fit in nicely with the current Garcia Carrion brand range, which includes five different D.O.s as well as the Don Simon table wine brand.

Reports suggest negotiations are already under way and a successful conclusion would be a perfect addition to the current Garcia Carrion expansion plan. It is already committed to spend € 90m before 2003 and this acquisition would give the company additional volume at a reasonable price.

Freixenet's name has also been mentioned but its recent acquisitions of Yvon Mau in France and Wingara in Australia may keep the management too busy in the short term. Insiders also believe that if the Catalan group is to make a further purchase in Spain, it almost certainly will be in Rioja. A spokesman for Freixenet refused to make any comment.