27 Nov 2013

Billionaire expands NZ interests

7:39 am on 27 November 2013

US billionaire Bill Foley has taken a quarter stake in the Nourish restaurant business run by celebrity chef Simon Gault.

Through the Foley Family Wines Holdings company based at the Wharekauhau lodge in the Wairarapa, Mr Foley has taken a 24.9% interest in Nourish Group, which runs a chain of restaurants including Euro, Fish, Shed 5, The Crab Shack, Pravda, Jervois Steak House and Bistro Lago.

AAP reports he is following a pattern in the United States where he owns vineyards and interests in about 700 restaurants.

His New Zealand holding company owns 80% of Foley Family Wines Ltd and a half stake in distributor EuroVintage.

"We want to use that as a channel to sell our wine," said wine company chief executive Mark Turnbull.

"We are actually really interested in having margin from the vineyard through to the restaurant."

Having a stake in the Nourish restaurant group helped the company increase the profile of its wines although they wouldn't have exclusive rights, Mr Turnbull said.

"At this stage, we are basically just a partner in the business but we would like to work with them and see how we can help them grow. They sell a lot of our wine," he said.

"In the future, we will try and map out how we can work together."

"We think wine and food experiences are a growth area," Mr Turnbull said. "We think there is an opportunity of creating something quite unique."

AAP reports Mr Turnbull said Mr Foley is evaluating fivedifferent investment opportunities.