Bridgepoint doubles money on Western Wines

Bridgepoint, the London-based mid-market investor, has made a return of more than two times capital from the £135m sale of Western Wines to Canada’s Vincor International.

Western Wines, the UK independent wine importer and distributor, has been acquired by Canadian wine producer and marketer Vincor International for £135 million. As part of the deal, private equity house Bridgepoint has sold its stake of around 20 percent for a return that sources close to the firm said was “in excess of two times capital invested”.

The sale represents the first exit from Bridgepoint’s €2 billion Europe II fund, which closed in May 2002.

Bridgepoint made its investment in Telford-based Western Wines in September 2002. Founded in 1980, the firm has a portfolio of 400 wines including the Kumala brand, which was at the heart of Bridgepoint’s strategy. Said Bridgepoint’s James Murray: “The key strategic objective was to manage the transition of Kumala from a brand that was known only in the trade to a leading consumer brand.” Awareness was raised, he said, by means of an extensive marketing campaign.

Vincor International, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, has a stated aim of becoming one of the world’s ten largest wine companies. The firm’s president and chief executive Donald Triggs said the acquisition of Western Wines would move it closer to that goal.

Advisers on the transaction included Hammonds and Norton Rose (legal), KPMG (due diligence) and OSM (market due diligence).

Bridgepoint has made seven exits in 2004. Last month, it acquired Pets at Home, the UK pet food and products retailer, in a £230 million deal.