Investindustrial backs Italian wine consolidation

The Italian private equity firm is providing up to E100m to Italian wine producer Ruffino as it seeks to exploit consolidation opportunities in the country’s wine industry.

Investindustrial, the  Milan-based private equity house formerly known as 21 Invest, has announced plans to lead consolidation in the Italian wine industry following a E100m commitment to Ruffino, one of Italy’s major Chianti producers.


Investindustrial will invest up to E100m for a 40 per cent stake in Ruffino, making it the single largest shareholder in the business. The majority of the company, which was established in 1877, will remain under the control of various Folonari family members.


With the commitment from Investindustrial the winery is now preparing a further development targeting acquisitions of other Italian wine companies. In 2001 Ruffino made its first consolidation move, acquiring the winery of Borgo Conventi in the Friuli region.


Ruffino currently manages 10 properties in Tuscany, with more than 1500 hectares of land and about 600 hectares of vineyards. Ruffino, which produces predominantly red wine from the Chianti region, reported sales in 2002 of E66m. 60 per cent of sales are made in the United States.


“It is rare to have the opportunity to invest in a large and prestigious wine producer in Italy,” said Andrea Bonomi, chairman of Investindustrial. “Ruffino represents a strong base for a buy and build in the wine industry.”


Landmark Partners, an investor in Investindustrial, co-invested in the transaction. Financing for the transaction was provided by Banca Popolare di Milano and IntesaBci.


Investindustrial is also planning to make a number of vineyard acquisitions in Spain. The firm has set aside up to E100m for acquisitions in Rioja and Ribera de Duero winemaking regions.


Investindustrial manages the E323m fund Investindustrial LP, co-sponsored by the Bonomi family and 21 Investimenti, founded and managed by Alessandro Benetton. In December, the firm joined forces with publisher group De Agostini to acquire a 10.9 per cent stake in Eutelsat, the satellite operator, for E210m.