US financial giant GE has reportedly been named as the backer for Yarraman Winery's pursuit of beleaguered wine group Evans & Tate.

The West Australian newspaper today (5 January) claimed that GE, which is involved in fields including health care, media and finance, has pledged A$72m (US$56.2m) towards Yarraman's bid for Evans & Tate.

The conglomerate is believed to be willing to provide some cash backing for the A$131m bid and to help refinance Evans & Tate debts that stand at around A$90m.

Yarraman, which announced its bid on 21 December, has stated that it has the debt and equity funding for the offer but industry watchers have raised questions over how a smaller, US-listed winery could fund a bid for Evans & Tate.

The West Australian wine group met on 26 December to consider the Yarraman offer. The company has decided to take more time to consider the bid and has until 16 January to make a formal response.

Yarraman, which is listed on the NASDAQ but has vineyards in Australia's Upper Hunter valley, made a full bid for Evans & Tate after snapping up a 19.9% stake in the company.

Yarraman CEO Wayne Rockall has said he is hopeful an acquisition of Evans & Tate would be "the first of several" the company makes throughout New World wine territories.