Billionaire Foley wins support for control of New Zealand Wine Company
US billionaire Bill Foley will take control of New Zealand Wine Company after winning support from shareholders at a special meeting today.
The merger with Foley Family Wines – through a backdoor listing on the NZAX – was approved at the meeting in Blenheim with about 99% of votes cast in favour.
The proposal still needs to be approved by the Overseas Investment Office.
It is proposed Mr Foley, who owns the luxurious Wharekauhau estate in Wairarapa, will take an 80% stake in the struggling Marlborough-based company.
That will see him add the premium wine brands Grove Mill, Frog Haven and Sanctuary to his suite of local wines – Vavasour, Goldwater, Clifford Bay and Dashwood.
NZWC shares are listed on the NZX alternative market and last traded at 92c, which is 7c above where they were trading when Mr Foley's offer was made.
Under the reverse takeover, it is intended NZWC will issue 34.7 million new shares, at $1.386 per share, to Foley Family Wines Holdings in exchange for all the shares in Foley Family Wines NZ ($42,114,541) and a cash component of about $6 million.
The winemaker's board unanimously recommended shareholders voted in favour of the merger proposal. Shareholders were told the company’s future would be in the hands of the bank if the proposed merger didn’t go ahead.
NZWC chairman Alton Jamieson says without a $6 million cash injection it would receive under Mr Foley's proposal, New Zealand Wine Company won’t be able to repay an outstanding $5 million debt to ANZ National.
Mr Foley made his foray on the National Business Review Rich List this year, with his wealth estimated at $1.2 billion.