Yarraman Winery CEO Wayne Rockall is hopeful an acquisition of Australian wine group Evans & Tate would be "the first of several" the US-listed company makes throughout New World wine territories.

Rockall told just-drinks today (22 December) that Yarraman, which has tabled a takeover bid for Evans & Tate, is looking to significantly expand over the next five years.

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

Yarraman has offered Evans & Tate investors one share in the enlarged company for every nine shares, a bid that values the West Australian wine producer at A$131m (US$103m). The company has also offered to refinance Evans & Tate's debts, which stand at around A$90m.

Nevertheless, Rockall outlined Yarraman's ambitions to expand its footprint outside Australia and further into New World wine producing countries.

He said: "We will be looking at businesses in New Zealand, Australia - they're the initial markets because it's easier to manage things closer to home. Argentina would also be very interesting for us at this point in time.

"It's our long-term ambition to turn Yarraman into a US$500m turnover business in five years through the judicious acquisitions of distressed wine businesses," Rockall added. "We've found that the business solution we have can provide salvation for wine businesses in a high level of debt."

Some 18 months ago, Yarraman decided to list in the US to gain access to greater equity funding. Potential Australian investors were then concerned about signs of an imminent wine glut and were keener to put their cash in the country's resource industries.

Rockall insisted Yarraman's access to US equity would boost ailing wine businesses that had potential to grow, like Evans & Tate.

He said: "US equity markets have a hunger for all things Australian and Yarraman is unique in that it is the only Australian wine business listed in the US. We've found that the business solution we have can provide salvation for wine businesses in a high level of debt."

Evans & Tate has had a tough 18 months, announcing a series of losses, write-downs and winery sales as the business was hit by Australia's wine glut. Evans & Tate's debts stand at around A$90m but Rockall insisted the foundations of the company's business are sound.

"(Evans & Tate chief executive) Martin Johnson has made some tough decisions to get the business on a sound footing - the key thing is to allow E&T to capitalise on its great brands once it restructures its balance sheet."

"Once it is freed from the onerous level of debt, it can provide a platform for the merged business to make acquisitions to form a federation of wine businesses."

Rockall pointed to Johnson's strategy of focusing on the company's premium labels, including X&Y and The Reserve. He said Evans & Tate also "very compelling" distribution deals and businesses in the UK, US and Australia.

Under Yarraman's proposals, Johnson would become president and CEO of the enlarged group, which would be re-named New World Wine Estates. Rockall would take up the position of senior vice president of sales and marketing.

The Evans & Tate board is to meet on Boxing Day to consider the Yarraman offer but have until 16 January to make a formal response to the bid.