Shareholders of Oakridge Vineyards Limited today approved an offer by fellow Australian winemaker Evans & Tate to acquire the Yarra Valley business.

The resolution was passed unanimously, with 99.82% of all shareholders voting in person or by proxy in favour of the move.

Oakridge will receive cash of A$3.6m, or $0.27054 for each Oakridge share held, together with one Scheme Option to acquire one Evans & Tate share for every three Oakridge shares held.

Oakridge shareholders also have the opportunity to subscribe for fully paid Evans & Tate Scheme Shares with the cash component of the deal.

Chairman and CEO of Evans & Tate Franklin Tate expressed his appreciation to the Oakridge board of directors for their co-operation and said: "Oakridge shareholders have delivered a significant vote of confidence in the winemaking and management skills of Evans & Tate, and they are now looking to us to deliver them a significant improvement on their current investment."

The first Oakridge wines to be released under the new structure have been branded with distinctive new packaging and will be available in early October.

In June Australian winemaker Evans & Tate offered A$3.6m (US$1.86m) in cash plus options to acquire Oakridge Vineyards.

It had been known for some time that Evans & Tate had been looking to expand. The company is working towards controlling 610 hectares of vines, with a five-year aim of producing between 200,000 and 500,000 cases of wine annually.

Although Oakridge fits in with Evans & Tate's strategy of targeting top end wine brands, the Yarra Valley producer recorded a net loss in 1999-2000 of A$177,429.
However, Evans & Tate executive chairman Franklin Tate has said he is confident his team could turn the financial performance around.

Wine: The International Market