AUSTRALIA’S largest wine company – owner of some of the country’s most famous wine labels – is ripe for a takeover offer with a potential bidding war netting up to $4.2 billion. Investors from China the world’s fastest-growing wine market – are likely to lead the charge. Demand from China is continuing to surge, with purchases of Australian wine up 16.3 per cent by volume and 23.1 per cent by value over the 12 months to the end of September. “New markets are opening up, and the supply of wine globally is tightening,” Merrill Lynch wrote in a briefing to clients. John Geber, owner of Chateau Tanunda in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, said he was constantly being approached by Chinese investors wanting to buy him out. “The Chinese guys have been looking around the Barossa with a couple of merchant banks,” he said. “It’s happening constantly – the Chinese want Barossa and iconic labels. I can’t believe how often we’re being approached, and they’re serious guys; they’re not tap-dancers.” TWE chief David Dearie has markedly increased the company’s focus on the fast-growing Chinese market.
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