The Australian based International Wine Investment Fund is close to sealing a significant stake in a French wine company, it was reported today.

The Australian paper The Age said it had learnt that IWIF has been in talks with a company based in the Loire region of Frnace for some months. The discussions have apparently led to the French group undergoing a a corporate and organisational restructure to accommodate IWI's fresh capital injection.

Traditionally IWIF has taken a 10% to 40% stake in overseas wine groups.

IWIF CEO Chris Day said that he was interested in making an investment in the Loire, but refused to reveal the name of the company in question. A deal though is expected in the new year.

"We could work a lot quicker than that but we've actually gone to these people in France and said that unless the deal is done the way we want it done we won't be investing, so they are now restructuring," Day said.

The only details that have emerged are that the French company is a well-recognised brand in Europe, sells between 1m and 2m cases a year and had strong market penetration in the United States and Canada.