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Peter Lehmann Wines to be sold


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Iconic Barossa winery Peter Lehmann Wines is to be sold to New South Wales-based Casella Family Brands.

The company founded by winemaker and original “Baron of the Barossa” Peter Lehmann, who died last year at the age of 82, announced today that it had received a proposal from Casella – best-known for its mass market Yellow Tail brand –  to buy 100 per cent of its shares.

Majority shareholder Hess Family Wine Estates (HFWE), of Switzerland, and substantial shareholder Margaret Lehmann intend to accept the offer in respect to their holdings.

“The board has evaluated the proposal by Casella Family Brands to acquire Peter Lehmann Wines and is confident that John Casella and his team will be fine custodians of Peter Lehmann’s legacy,” Peter Lehmann Wines chairman Christoph Ehrbar said in a statement.

“Casella Family Brands is an Australian family-owned wine success story with the vision and expertise to continue the development of this important South Australian wine business.”

Casella has offered $1.50 per share to acquire all of the outstanding shares. PLW will recommend shareholders accept the offer in the absence of a superior one.

Margaret Lehmann, Peter’s widow, said Casella managing director John Casella was also a winemaker and shared the values that led to the creation of Peter Lehmann Wines.

Peter Lehmann Wines was managed from 1990 to 2010 by Peter’s eldest son Doug, who died suddenly of a heart attack in June this year. His successor as CEO in 2011 was Jeff Bond, who said the sale would create many new opportunities for the Peter Lehmann brand and the Barossa.

“For our growers, employees and customers, the shared vision and values of the two companies will create a strong platform for an exciting future,” he said.

Hess Family Wine Estates has owned a controlling share of Peter Lehmann Wines since 2002. It said moves to streamline HFWE’s portfolio strategy, with a primary focus on the American market, would be accelerated with the sale of the unlisted public company.

“Peter Lehmann’s storied past in the Barossa has only been enhanced in recent years under the leadership of general manager Jeff Bond and his team,” said Ehrbar.

“During challenging times, the quality of Peter Lehmann wines has only increased, and it’s become clear that a real fondness exists for the winery worldwide.

“This is a time of transition, with the passing of founder Peter Lehmann and the retirement of long-time winemaker Andrew Wigan.

“Casella’s investment in PLW will further unlock the full potential of Peter Lehmann while allowing HFWE to invest primarily in its California brands, including The Hess Collection, which is preparing to celebrate the release of its 30th vintage from its notable estate vineyards in the highest elevations on Mount Veeder.”

The proposed offer from Casella Family Brands to buy Peter Lehmann Wines is subject to 90 per cent minimum acceptance and standard defeating conditions, with the share offer open until 7pm, December 12.


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