Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  29 Jul 2011

VENTURES: Big Cheque, But Business As Usual At Klein Constantia


Recent Western Cape Business News

IS iconic Cape wine estate Klein Constantia about to undergo a radical change after Czechoslovakia-born billionaire Zdenek Bakala and British investment banker Charles Harman bought the property for a rumoured sum of 20 million euros (around R200 million)?

With other iconic ‘wine properties’ like Boschendal and Constantia Uitsig transforming into leisure and residential properties CBN wonders whether Harman and Bakala may be considering a major change at Klein Constantia.

While less is known about Harman, Bakala is one of the world’s mega-rich - valued at some $2 billion through mainly mining iron ore in the Ukraine and numerous other investment banking ventures.

Bakala tells CBN there are no changes planned at Klein Constantia. “It’s a heritage property and we respect that”.

The next obvious question would be whether Bakala and Harman could consolidate their interests by looking at further acquisitions in the wine sector.

While Klein Constantia is the duo’s first wine-related investment, Bakala says there are no plans for more forays into the sector. “Klein Constantia is a particularly special property”.

At this early stage Bakala and Harman have not quantified what investment will be needed at Klein Constantia. The official view is that “capital will be provided as necessary to continue the process of producing ever better wines at Klein Constantia”.

There’s not much evidence that Bakala or Harman are experts in wine sector – so only time will tell whether their involvement will bolster the brands churned out at Klein Constantia.

CBN does note that Bakala was actively engaged in the privatization and restructuring of many Czech and Slovak companies – including (perhaps significantly) Becherovka, the famous Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) drinks producer that was acquired by Pernod Ricard of France.

And indications are that the new owners are not going to tamper with existing structures. Lowell Jooste will be continuing in his role as managing director of Klein Constantia, and there are no changes planned to the team or operations.

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