By Muluken Yewondwossen
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Awash International Bank (AIB), one of the most vibrant private banks in the country, has approved a 146 million birr loan for Blue Nile Investment PLC, a partnership company that was formed by a local and a UK based company and equity firm for investment in a winery.
Blue Nile was formed by Mulugeta Tesfakiros and 8 Miles, an equity firm chaired by Bob Geldof. It has purchased the pioneer Awash Winery SC at a cost of 459.9 million birr from the Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA), the supervisory body for public enterprises, in February of this year.
According to reliable sources at AIB, this week Awash approved the 146 million birr loan for Blue Nile to conclude the balance payment that it is expected to transfer to PPESA.
About three months ago, the agency handed the winery to the bid winner after 8 Miles concluded full payments of its share to the Agency, Wendafrash Assefa, Head of Public Relations at PPESA, told Capital.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“8 Miles does not have a history or track record in the country. Therefore, it was required to pay in full for its share because, in such cases, it is mandatory,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wendafrash said.
8 Miles owns 51% of Blue Nile Investment and the balance is owned by Mulugeta, who is actively involved in the real estate business. Sources said that the company acquired Awash Winery by paying 312.9 million birr for the acquisition of the winery and the balance was provided by Awash Bank as a loan to settle the remainder. Before Blue Nile bought the 70-year old winery, it had been put up for auction on several occasions, but there had been no takers even though it was offered below its floor price.
Awash was the sole winery in the country until the past few weeks when Castle, a major winery renowned around the world, commenced production at the winery it established in the town of Zeway, 163km south of Addis.