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Australia's biggest wine producer to shift focus to China under new ownership by Xinhua08/04/2018  

The new owners of Australia's biggest wine company hopes to capitalize on the growing demand for wine in China.

U.S. private equity firm Carlyle Group on Thursday agreed to buy South Australia's Accolade Wines from Australia's CHAMP Private Equity for 1 billion Australian dollars (767 million U.S. dollars).

Accolade is the biggest wine company by volume in both Australia and Britain with its portfolio covering 20 of Australia's "premium wine regions."

The sale came at a time of rapid growth in demand for Australian wine by the Chinese market with Carlyle keen to tap into that market.

"This is a company with great brands and strong market positions, with multiple growth opportunities, particularly in Asian markets," a spokesperson for the firm told the Guardian Australia on Friday.

Exports of Australian wines to China have been growing since the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) took effect in December 2015.

Under ChAFTA, tariffs on Australian wine imported to China were reduced from 20 percent to 3 percent.

Australian wine exports to China increased 63 percent in 2017 to 848 million Australian dollars (650 million U.S. dollars), making it the second biggest exporter of wine to China behind France.

CHAMP bought its 80 percent share in Accolade in 2011 for 290 million Australian dollars (222 million U.S. dollars).