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Wednesday 6 October 2021

Farewell to the Fistonich family: Villa Maria sale complete

So farewell to the Fistonich family, who built Villa Maria into a global giant after founding the wine business in the early 60s. 

Indevin New Zealand has officially concluded acquiring 100% of the shares of Villa Maria Estate Limited, for an undisclosed sum, Decanter reported.

The sale includes Villa Maria’s Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Auckland wineries, vineyards, supplier agreements, the flagship brand Villa Maria and Esk Valley, Vidal, Leftfield and Thornbury.

The completion of the deal follows Indevin entering into a conditional agreement in early August with Calibre Partners, the receivers of Fistonich Family Wine, and follows a nine-month process after the parent company and sole shareholder of Villa Maria Estate [FFWL] was placed into receivership.

Adding Villa Maria to its stable was a "logical next step" for Marlborough-based Indevin, said chairman Greg Tomlinson.

“The coming together of two successful New Zealand wine export businesses supports our vision to become the leading New Zealand global wine business, spearheaded by the Villa Maria brand," he said. 

"This collaboration will be significant for the New Zealand wine industry and we are delighted Villa Maria will remain in New Zealand ownership."

Malcom McDougall, chairman of Villa Maria Estate, added: ‘Villa Maria is an iconic kiwi brand and Indevin is an established participant in the New Zealand wine industry – together the two businesses are a powerful combination and there are many competitive advantages that both sides bring to the table."

Privately-owned Indevin said it had identified that, in order to achieve its ambition of being a leading player in the New Zealand wine industry, acquiring a strong New Zealand wine brand would be a crucial step.

‘We had looked at a number of wine businesses with brands over the last few years, but none provided the strategic fit of Villa Maria," Tomlinson said. "We are excited by the opportunities this collaboration offers."

"Indevin’s business is built around holding and building value for New Zealand vineyards and growers. Our strong supply chain coupled with the strength and heritage of the Villa Maria brand will create a sustainable business for the future and grow value for the New Zealand wine industry.’

Indevin makes wines for wineries and retailers all over the world, has three wineries and controls supply from more than 3,000 hectares of vineyards in Marlborough, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.  

FFWL, the parent company of Villa Maria, owed banks $211.9 million, the first receivers report said in May.

George Fistonich built Villa Maria from a one-man operation in 1961 to a business with over 300 employees that became the No.1 New Zealand wine brand in the UK and Ireland. 

Founded in 2003, Indevin says on its website that it is "New Zealand’s leading producer of high-quality wine". 

It is big in the retailers' "own brand" space, making wine for British supermarket chains Tesco and Waitrose

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