Winemaker behind Hardys acquired by US firm

Winemaker behind Hardys acquired by US firm

Australia's largest winemaker, Accolade, has been acquired by US based private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

Based in South Australia, Accolade produces a number of prominent Australian household wines with labels including Hardys, St Hallet and Banrock Station.

As a major producer of cask wines and the fifth largest in the world by volume, delivering an average of 35 million cases to more than 140 countries annually, Carlyle believes Accolade is ripe for expansion.

Carlyle's managing director David Bluff says he looks forward to working with the Aussie team.

"We see significant growth potential, with our expertise in the consumer sector and access to a global network," says Bluff.

"We look forward to working with the management team to support the company's Asia growth strategy and the continued development of its business."

Late last year, Carlyle bought Sydney based iNova Pharmaceuticals a month before selling its stake in Coates Hire, representing its high level of activity within the Australian market.

The US firm announced in April that by the end of March it had invested more than $2.6 billion of equity in Australia over the years.

Accolade will be lead by former Murray Goulburn chief executive Ari Mervis, who will step into the role of executive chairman as of August.

In September, Accolade announced it will be cutting 35 jobs from its grape processing operation Berri Estate in SA, citing high costs and falling consumer demand for cask wine.

Berri Estate employs 265 permanent staff and up to 415 staff in total in the busy harvest period.

Accolade is building a $40 million bottling plant at the Berri site, which is expected to create 40 jobs when it opens by the end of this year.

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