The Australian wine and beer group, Lion Nathan, is planning to create a A$1 billion wine operation through the acquisition of further medium-sized wineries. According to reports, the group's chief executive, Gordon Cairns, confirmed the company's plans as he addressed a meeting with the Credit Suisse First Boston banking group.

Cairns said that Lion Nathan, which has already acquired the Banksia, Petaluma and Wither Hills, but lost out to Allied Domecq in its bid to acquire the New Zealand wine business, Montana, in 2001, still has a NZ$800m to spend on acquisitions.

In a separate announcement, Lion Nathan said it had appointed Jamie Tomlinson as its new chief financial officer, with effect from 1 May 2003.