McWilliams CEO says ‘we will keep pushing and we will keep trading’

15 December, 2020 by Andy Young

McWilliams Wines Group CEO David Pitt has told The Shout that the business will keep going despite the disappointment of the acquisition by Prcstnt Asset Management falling through.

A deal had been agreed by shareholders and creditors for Prcstnt to buy McWilliams back in July, but last week the company failed to meet agreed deadlines for payment.

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While Pitt would not comment or speculate the reasons behind why Prcstnt failed to complete the deal, he did say that he was expecting it to happen right up until last week.

However despite the disappointment of the deal not going ahead Pitt said the winemaker was very resilient and will keep trading.

“It’s business as unusual for us right now. If ever this was going to happen it was going to be in 2020, this just sums this year up,” Pitt told The Shout.

He added: “Don’t write us off. We will keep pushing, keep showing up, we will keep trading and we will keep making wine.”

Pitt said that retail for the company had been strong this year, although on-premise and international trading had been hit by venue and border shutdowns.

“Australians retailers and the public have really supported local wineries during the pandemic and I call on our customers and consumers to keep supporting McWilliams.

“We are still winning awards for our wines and retail is strong and we are looking to keeping that going.”

Pitt told The Shout that the group is once again working with KPMG and Colliers International to once again find another buyer for McWilliams.

KPMG has reappointed Colliers to sell the business and assets of McWilliams Wines Group, and The Shout understands there were several purchasers interested in the group prior to the Prcstnt deal being reached in July.

As such Colliers International agribusiness specialist Tim Altschwager said he anticipates interest from within the wine industry, private equity groups and high net-worth individuals.

“In particular, existing wine industry groups will see an outstanding opportunity to add an iconic Australian name to their portfolios,” Altschwager said.

“McWilliams does not currently have an extensive international distribution network, which makes this a substantial opportunity for a buyer with existing overseas networks to ramp the business up.”

The deal for Prcstnt to buy McWilliams collapsed last week after the private equity firm asked for two extensions and then still failed to settle before the final deadline.

The Australian reported that in a letter to creditors and suppliers, Gayle Dickerson, Restructuring Services Partner, KPMG Australia said: “We regret to advise that the DOCA (Deed of Company Arrangement) has not been able to be completed as per the terms of the DOCA.

“The deed administrators are currently assessing the options available including sale of the business while continuing to trade the business.”