After a torrid time of late in the corporate tumble drier, KWV MD Thys Loubser looked relaxed in his slacks yesterday in his La Concorde palace-cum-corporate HQ in Paarl. “We’re now 65% black owned and this is no BEE deal. The purchase by HCI was a regular corporate transaction and our empowerment trust KEET has just bought a further 2% of the company.”
With R200m in the bank and surrounded by some of the jewels of 20th century SA fine art (including the giant 1946 Irma Stern oil painting Stefan Welz valued recently at R25 bar but worth probably twice that and an exquisite Christo Coetzee bride “did you know Christo walked down Church Street in Tulbagh in his wife’s wedding dress to make a point?”) Thys has every reason to look relaxed. Pleased with himself, even.
For while Jannie Mouton was on the board (“an investor more successful than Warren Buffet” according to Thys) the R200m was a sitting duck for charges of a “lazy balance sheet” with a special dividend to shareholders always a threat. Now it looks like the R200m will be applied to broaden the company’s product base into RTDs and spirits like Gin and Vodka “that we also make from wine.”
Of course distribution is the key to making money in wine as Tim Rands demonstrates at Vinimark. DGB have some of the tightest Stelvin screwcaps in the business. They recently took over Brampton from Rustenberg and hired the youngest Cape Wine Master, Brad Gold, to run with it.
So expect some toenaadering between KWV and DGB – perhaps KWV will buy the residual shareholding in DGB of the late Graham Beck. An alternative is a Machiavellian Christo Wiese strategy that could give Jan Scannell at Distell many a sleepless night, with Christo playing the role of the other Christo’s bride. In the old KWV, everyone was called Thys. Now everyone is called Christo.
After Dr. Wiese’s initial grab for KWV was rebuffed, he threw in his lot with Jannie and swapped KWV aandele for shares in PSG. Now that Zeder has sold out to HCI for a fat R65m profit (somewhat tarnished by Pioneer’s unfortunate fine for price fixing), Christo is taking a major stake in Brait who indirectly own DGB. So a tie-up between KWV and DGB would see Thys working for Dr. Wiese again, something he has been doing for most of his professional life. It would also solve KWV’s export dilemma as Golden Kaan has been more of a Golden Turkey.
While all these corporate shenanigans proceed apace, KWV cellar master Richard Rowe is quietly getting on with the job. His 2009 vintage Roodeberg blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, Merlot and Petit Verdot is a big step up (even if Thys wants “more fruit and greater length”) from previous vintages and at the R50 price point, is starting to look like an affordable, every-day icon for SA reds. Especially in its 3litre attaché case packaging (above) which makes it the smartest bag-in-box in the Boland.
It was Richard who pointed out that “good wines are made in the vineyard. Great wines are made in the boardroom.” Something for the captains of corporate wine to ponder.
Confucius say: He who decided putting Roodeberg in box must be real good doos.