Japanese private equity firm Cool Japan Fund Inc. (CJF) has bought shares in China’s leading wine importer East Meets West Fine Wines (EMW) for an undisclosed amount, the company has announced following months of rumours.

The percentage of shares purchased by the Japanese company is however not disclosed either.

Rumours of a possible sale of EMW first surfaced last year when accounting firm Ernst & Young published a project teaser, hinting a major Chinese wine importer is looking for sale. The name of the importer was not disclosed in the file sent out to investors but descriptions matched EMW in terms of operational size, founding time and company structure.

At the time when asked about the rumour, company managing partner Gregory Bielot who is based in Hong Kong denied the story to Natalie Wang.

Founded in 2003 by Edouard Duval and Bielot, EMW has a portfolio of over 80 brands in 15 countries and is marketing and distributing wines in over 150 cities in China including Hong Kong and Macau.

The sale, according to both parties, is an opportunity to strengthen EMW’s continued growth in premium wine sector, as well as “accelerating its development into complimentary beverages such as sake and spirits”, said CJF.

“The key point for us is the trust CJF has in our business model and our management team. The combination of EMW’s market knowledge, strong distribution network, and CJF’s financing, digital marketing, lifestyle and sake & spirits gvies us new opportunities and creates synergies. The partnership makes us an even stronger player in the market and creates exciting opportunities for our employees, our customers and our supplier partners, ” said Duval, CEO of EMW.

“We are very excited with the investment in EMW. It is of high strategic importance for CJF. EMW has been operating with great success for over 15 years in the fastest wine growing market in the world,” said Yuji Kato, COO and CIO of CIF.

They have built a leading position in the premium wine segment thanks to a very sharp and healthy business model and a strong team. CJF sees a great opportunity to join forces to further leverage is excellent marketing platform in CHina for quality sake project while to continue the devlopement of EMW’s solid wine and spirits business,” he added.

This would also make EMW the second major wine importer in China with shares sold to Japanese companies.

ASC Fine Wines was sold to Suntory Group in 2009.

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