Casella Family Brands restructures to ensure family ownership

Casella Family Brands, the producer of Yellow Tail, has restructured to ensure it will stay in family hands, according to reports in the Australian press.


The Australian Business Review (ABR) has reported that the family owned winery – one of the largest in Australia – has passed control of the company to the three sons of founders Fillippo Casella, who died in 2009, and his wife Maria Casella, who died in 2014.

The move is the result of a share buyback agreement, the ABR said, which valued the business at AUS$1.5 billion. Around 5.34% of the company has been bought back from three trusts, the paper reported. In the deal, brothers John, Joe and Marcello Casella will each take a share of their late mother’s 45% stake in the company.

John Casella, who become managing director of Casella Family Brands in 1994, will have a 50% stake in the business, the ABR reported, with Joe and Marco awarded a 30% and 20% stake respectively.

Casella apparently told the business section of The Australian the family had been determined not to repeat the mistakes of other family-owned businesses and lose control of the business to outside investors.

“The wine business is a tough business and many family winemakers are no longer owned by the family, and it is always a concern, but at the end of the day it’s up to us to do what we can, up to the next generation,’’ he told the paper.

Casella Family Brands, which is based in Griffith, New South Wales, was in founded in 1965 and launched its Yellow Tail brand in 2001, which has become one of the largest brands in the US market.

In July last year, the company snapped up a McLaren Vale vineyard for a reported AUS$12.4 million as well purchasing Morris Wines in Victoria from Pernod Ricard. These acquisitions followed its purchase of Coonawarra’s Brand’s Laira from McWilliam’s Wine Group and Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley for US$49.5million from Hess Group in November 2014.

In 2014, the company also signalled its intention to focus on the premium wine categories in order to boost its standing in the US market.

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