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Global fund manager BlackRock invests in winemaker Chapel Down

By Chris Price

The world’s largest fund manager has taken a stake in winemaker Chapel Down marking a step-change for the Kentish fizz producer.

BlackRock, whose advisors include former Chancellor George Osborne, has taken a 5.79% share in the Tenterden-based business worth about £6 million.

A regulatory announcement on Wednesday afternoon revealed the details of the New York-based backer.

Chapel Down is stocked in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and Majestic
Chapel Down is stocked in Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Tesco and Majestic

Chapel Down first confirmed a global institutional investor had taken a stake in the business in December although it did not reveal BlackRock’s identity.

Its investment was part of £18.5 million raised through a new share offering in December.

A subsequent share offer has since taken the total raised to £20 million.

The investment giant was the only new investor in last year’s fundraising.

The other notable backer was IPGL, the family office of Michael Spencer, the founder and chief executive of NEX Group, which already had a stake in Chapel Down prior to the share offer.

Founded in 1988, BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, with $5.7 trillion (£4.2trn) of assets under management.

Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson
Chapel Down chief executive Frazer Thompson

It has 135 investment teams in 30 countries, with its major investments including AstraZeneca, British American Tobacco, GlaxoSmithKline and Royal Dutch Shell.

Its interest is a coup for Chapel Down, which has seen its market value grow to £106 million after being stocked at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and becoming the wine supplier of No.10 Downing Street.

As well as its vineyards in Tenterden, Blue Bell Hill and the Weald, it has also developed its own beer and cider, with plans to open a brewery in Ashford in November, and launched a gin and vodka late last year.

Chief executive Frazer Thompson said: “The investment is a really exciting development.

“We are truly humbled to have attracted funds from such an admired and enormously successful global institution.

“They saw what I see every day. We have great products. We have great people.

“It is a testament to just how far this team has come and how far it can go.”

BlackRock has been approached for comment.

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