Viansa investor seeks greater stake in its success

SONOMA VALLEY -- Nearly five years after taking over cash-strapped Viansa Winery & Marketplace in Sonoma Valley, a New York-based hedge fund is considering a buyout offer from a former executive who quickly returned Viansa to profitably and has been running it since.

[caption id="attachment_64808" align="alignleft" width="378"] Lloyd Davis[/caption]

Lloyd Davis, former fund partner and chief credit officer turned president and part owner of the winery, recently submitted a bid of an undisclosed sum to acquire the share of Viansa held by Laurus Master Fund, Ltd.

"I love this property and want to own it," Mr. Davis said of his decision this past August to made a bid for it. "Part of me hopes nobody offers more than I'm willing to pay." If there is a higher offer, he wants to pursue another opportunity in the wine industry.

Because of Mr. Davis' ties to Laurus and part ownership in Viansa (800-995-4740, viansa.com), Laurus brought in St. Helena-based investment bank Global Wine Partners to market Viansa and negotiate with interested suitors. There is no date for a call for purchase offers, but a potential sale likely will be considered early next year, Mr. Davis said.

"The fund and I don't have to sell our positions," he said. "There's no big hurry. I just want to resolve this sooner or later."

[caption id="attachment_64585" align="alignright" width="440"] The first of Trefethen Vineyards' 2012 Hillspring Vineyard estate cabernet sauvignon is picked early on Oct. 5. (photo credit: Jon Ruel, Trefethen Vineyards)[/caption]

In December 2007, Laurus assumed ownership of Viansa via bankruptcy court on account of tens of millions of dollars in loans to 360 Global Wine Co. A month later, Mr. Davis, a wine aficionado for more than three decades, eagerly stepped in to run Viansa.


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