McGuigan owner Australian Vintage (AVG) has confirmed it is in “exploratory discussions” with Accolade Wines, following media speculation over a merger.

In an announcement today on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), the company said: “As noted in AVG’s half year 31 December 2023 results released to ASX on 21 February 2024, AVG’s strategic review has identified a number of initiatives with the potential to maximise shareholder value, including potential transformational mergers. AVG confirms it is in exploratory discussions with Accolade, however these discussions are still at a very early stage, and there is no certainty that any transaction will eventuate. AVG will continue to update the market in accordance with its continuous disclosure obligations.”

Earlier this month, Hardys owner Accolade announced a recapitalisation plan, which saw a consortium of investors, under the name Australian Wine Holdco, agree to take control of the company from previous shareholders. Australian Wine Holdco comprises funds backed by existing Accolade financial partners Bain Capital Special Situations, Intermediate Capital Group, Capital Four, Sona Asset Management and Samuel Terry Asset Management.

Accolade Wines CEO Robert Foye said at the time of the recapitalisation announcement: “This agreement is great news for Accolade, our customers, our suppliers and our people. Like all Australian winemakers, we have been hit by a number of challenging macro-economic and industry headwinds in recent years. Despite our strong stable of brands and leadership positions in key markets, as well as operational measures taken to strengthen the business, our ability to respond to these challenges and grow has been hampered by an unsustainable balance sheet. With this recapitalisation and the support of our new shareholders, we will be ideally positioned to take advantage of the significant opportunities to meet customer demand and grow sales around the world.”

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