Blog: Olly WehringOur final thought for 2006 - Yarraman and Evans & Tate

Olly Wehring | 22 December 2006

There is no doubting the ambition at US-listed Australian wine group Yarraman Winery.

CEO Wayne Rockall, who this week has overseen a takeover bid for Evans & Tate, sees the struggling West Australian wine group as the first of “several” acquisitions his company could make throughout the New World.

Rockall believes Yarraman’s US listing – and access to the country’s equity markets – can provide “salvation” to wine producers saddled with heavy debts. Over the last 18 months, Evans & Tate has looked in need of some help to say the least as the business has been hit by Australia’s wine glut.

However, under the stewardship of current chief executive Martin Johnson, a number of tough decisions have been made at Evans & Tate. Wineries have been sold, jobs axed, inventories reduced and there is now a focus on the company’s premium labels.

Evans & Tate has got a good UK distribution partner in HwCg, a US network with some potential, as well as its own sales force in Australia – all apparently strong foundations on which a new owner could build.

And Yarraman’s management has been canny to bid for Evans & Tate when the company’s value is so low. Evans & Tate shares have reached A$0.14 in recent weeks; 18 months ago, they stood at around A$1.10.

The question for the ambitious Rockall and Yarraman is: where next in the New World could they go to find such a beleaguered company - but with the potential to bounce back from its difficulties?

And so, we leave you with that thought. We’re off to over-indulge and detox for a week, and will be back, fighting fit and raring to go, on Tuesday 2 January. Both my news editor, Dean Best, and myself wish you all a well-earned break next week - if, indeed, you are not at work next week - and a prosperous and successful 2007.

You can count on just-drinks to help you prosper and succeed next year.


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