There is going to be a new player in the local wine market as Awash Wine SC is negotiating to partner with Distell of South Africa, one of the leading producers of fine wines in the world. The executives of the company were in the capital from Tuesday for three consecutive days for high-level talks with executives of Awash and close in on a deal on a strategic partnership.
Though Awash has a significant market share in Ethiopia, it has failed to meet its target of producing 20 million liters of wines by 2017. The latest move is seen as an effort to expand its share of the market which, according to the winery, stands at 10 million liters of wine.
Founded by Greek and Italian entrepreneurs in 1956, Awash was nationalized in 1973 and privatized once again in 2013. Awash is currently owned by 8 Miles LLP, a private equity firm established by Sir Bob Geldof, and real estate mogul Mulugeta Tesfakiros, with the former (8 Miles) being the majority owner.
“We are discussing the partnership to try to work with Distell, the sixth or seventh biggest producer of wines in the world,” Mulugeta, one of the shareholders of Awash, told The Reporter. “I cannot confirm if 8 Miles will be part of the deal. I do not have that information at hand. The negotiation is how to expand, on investment from (Distell) and we are close to agreeing on a deal. But it will not be about the outright sale of the company.”
“Distell produces 650 million litter of wines and we produce 10 million,” he added.
The South African company is known to market brands such as Savanna, Hunter’s Dry, Bisquit, Durbanville Hills and Nederburg.
Sir Bob Geldof, the Irish rock star, the architect of Live Aid and advocate of aid to Africa has transitioned to a role of a foreign investor. He remains a board member of Awash Wine. The Reporter reached out to Robin Hepburn the press officer of 8 Miles for comment in London and as of press time, there was no response.