DE BORTOLI Wines boss Darren De Bortoli has moved to quell concerns the family’s vast wine empire could be impacted following news the company has more than $30 million tied up in a collapsing mining firm.
The De Bortolis hold 56.8 million shares in North Queensland mining giant Kagara, which has been placed into voluntary administration after a continuing slide in base metal prices.
The chances of the De Bortolis recouping much of their investment looks grim, with Kagara sacking 216 of its workers and administrators Taylor Woodings offering little hope the company could trade out of its difficulties.
In 2001, the Griffith family was forced to take a $14.5 million write-down on the value of its investment in insurance group HIH after its high-profile collapse.
But Mr De Bortoli, who has previously refused to speak to media about the matter, told The Area News this week the winery’s local operations would not be affected by the share dramas.
“This will not have an impact on the local winery operations and no banking covenants have been breached,” Mr De Bortoli said.
“No one should be panicked by this.”
Kagara’s total market worth when shares were suspended last month, at 12c a share, was less than $100 million.
There are more than 830 creditors of Kagara – the largest of them the ANZ bank.
De Bortoli spent more than $50 million on share market investments in the year to June 30, 2011 and made close to $18 million trading profit, more than its entire wine profit for the same period.