English winemaker backed by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft cheers £6m cash call to pay off debt
A Kent-based sparkling wine maker backed by Lord Ashcroft is raising up to £6.2million to slash its debt and expand the business.
A former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, Ashcroft has a 68 per cent stake in Gusbourne, which is listed on the junior AIM market.
Founder Andrew Weeber, a South African-born orthopaedic surgeon, began planting vineyards at the Gusbourne estate in Appledore, near Ashford, in 2004 and it now has 231 acres in Kent and West Sussex.
Brit fizz: Gusbourne, which has become one of the biggest luxury English sparkling wine sellers, will sell more than 8m new shares at 75p each
He spent nearly a decade turning the former ‘turnip patch’ into a vineyard before selling control to Ashcroft in 2013 for £7million.
Many of Gusbourne’s vintages have won awards and it has become one of the biggest luxury English sparkling wine sellers.
It will sell more than 8m new shares at 75p each – down from 95.5p on Friday’s closing price.
Ashcroft’s wine investment vehicle has agreed to underwrite the share sale by up to £2million if the stock is not taken by other investors.
English sparkling wine has boomed in the past decade.
Most of the 100 or so wineries are in the south of England – particularly the South East – which has soil very similar to that of the Champagne-growing region in France.
Gusbourne shares fell 0.5 per cent, or 0.5p, to 95p.