Wentworth Golf Club owner in legal battle over wine worth £4.8m

Reignwood, the Chinese company which owns Wentworth Golf Club in Surrey, is suing its former head of international operations for allegedly mishandling over 32,000 bottles of wine, worth £4.8 million.

Image: Wentworth

As reported by the Sunday Times, Reignwood is claiming that its former head of international operations, Ni Songhua, “refused to provide an account of his stewardship” of 32,000 bottles of fine wine, worth £4.8 million and bought from Berry Bros & Rudd.

Speaking to the Times, Ni said the allegations were “without merit” and were “pure tactical play to put more pressure on me”. He states that some of the bottles had been used for entertainment and as gifts while the majority remained in storage, but he did not tell the Times where the bottles were kept.

When approached by the drinks business, Wentworth refused to comment on the allegations due to this being an ongoing legal matter.

In March last year, the FT announced that Chinese billionaire and owner of Reignwood, Chanchai Ruayrungruang, was being counter-sued by Ni over claims that Chanchai reneged on promises to reward Ni for buying the group’s overseas assets.

Reignwood bought Wentworth from restaurateur Richard Caring for £135 million in 2014. It has faced criticism following its takeover after announcing in April 2017 that its members, except those aged over 75, would have to pay a £100,000 debenture in order to remain at the club. With only 900 debentures available, the move was designed to reduce membership which at the time totalled around 4,000.

Last year the club backed down after criticism from high profile members such as broadcaster, Michael Parkinson, however annual fees are reported to have risen from £8,000 to £13,500 a year, while membership numbers have fallen by 40% in two years.

Wentworth completed a £13 million refit of its clubhouse in 2018. Beginning in September 2017, at its peak the project had 150 builders on site, with the new locker rooms boasting saunas and steam rooms, according to db’s sister publication, The Golf Business.

According to Golf Monthly, the clubhouse also has two new private dining rooms with five drinking and dining areas in total, along with 25 chefs and a sommelier.

A Bordeaux-collector, Chanchai teamed up wth the Four Seasons and Château Latour in 2017 to open the Ten Trinity Square Private Club, housed within the Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square hotel in London.

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