A consortium led by Bain Capital has assumed control of Accolade, the Australian winemaker known for brands like Hardys. The acquisition is part of a restructuring initiative as the wine sector anticipates the reopening of trade with China.
Accolade Wines, Australia’s second-largest wine producer, has been acquired by a consortium led by Bain Capital. The move comes as the company faced challenges, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality sector, punitive Chinese tariffs on Australian wine in 2020, and a shift in consumer preferences towards more expensive wines. The restructuring aims to address these challenges and secure a long-term future for the business. Accolade Wines, known for brands like Hardys Wines and Banrock Station, was acquired by Carlyle in 2018 for A$1 billion (US$660 million).
Accolade, facing challenges with servicing its debts, is set to undergo a recapitalization led by a Bain-led consortium called Australian Wine Holdco. Bain’s special situations unit, along with asset managers Intermediate Capital Group, Capital Four, Sona Asset Management, and Samuel Terry Asset Management, plans to complete the recapitalization by mid-year. The consortium has been acquiring Accolade’s debt at a discount, and negotiations with grape suppliers in South Australia for supply contract adjustments have begun. The company has also divested smaller brands, like the Tasmanian vineyard Bay of Fires, to reduce debt. Analysts anticipate the restructured Accolade to attract interest from large trade buyers or private equity firms.
Australian winemakers are gearing up for the potential reopening of the Chinese market, which was once a significant growth driver for the sector. The review of 2020 tariffs began late last year, initiated after a state visit by Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to China in November. This move follows a resumption of trading for other products, previously halted due to Australian leader Scott Morrison’s call for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.